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The Chronicles of Peath and Mr Pickwick 

Volume Eleven 


June 27 

Today, I thought I would post a little-known 
drawing by Seymour which could be seen as a 
forerunner to nis famous Mr Pickwick 
Addresses the Club picture. Note in 
particular the dog in the shadows under the 
table, and the triangular spittoon. These two 
objects also appear in Mr Pickwick Addresses 
the Club, and perhaps could be considered a 
visual 'signature' by Seymour. They appear 
too in the unsigned picture of the Daffy Club 
which I have posted about before. 

Below the picture, there is the verse of a 
song the club sings, which I quote in Death 
ana Mr Pickwick: "His vife she bit off half her 
tongue/ But vot a sad disaster/The other half 
more active rung/And scolded all the faster." 

I would like to know whether this was written 
by Seymour. I suspect it was, because I can 
find no evidence of the song elsewhere 

June 27 

Peter Stadlera's latest post brings 
back memories of the day when he 
and I first met, in the Exmouth Arms 
pub, close to the location of the 
London Spa (or "Spaw") Tavern. 

“In Death and Mr Pickwickwe read 
about the London Spa Tavern. The 
name London Spaw was adopted in 
July 1685 by John Halhed, the 
vintner and victuallerwho was then 
the proprietor, allegedly with support 
from the scientist Robert Boyle wno, 
it was claimed, had found the water 
in the well immediately below this 
building to be the best of the locally 
discovered 'medicinal iron waters'. 

“The designation was perhaps 
intended as a contrast to the newly 
discovered Islington Spa (New 
Tunbridge Wells) and Sadler's Wells 
to emphasise relative accessibility 
from the metropolis; London Spaw 
enjoyed success as a popular 
resort, and in 1733 it was written: 
Now sweethearts with their 
sweethearts go 
To Islington or London Spaw, 

Some go but just to drink the 
water, Some for the ale which they 
like better 

“The pub was established before 
1741 . Address formerly given as 34 
Rosoman Street. The Spa (Spaw) was 
rebuilt in brick in 1766-8, by John 
Wilkinson, its proprietor, with John 
Cole, a Whitecross Street bricklayer, 
and John Horn, another bricklayer 
who became a victualler and ran the 
establishment thereafter. It 
continued to incorporate a skittle 
ground, and was used by the 
Northampton Estate. The spring 
dried up in the early years of the 
nineteenth century, but the alehouse 

“The pub closed in 2001 and now 
operates as a restaurant. 

London Spa became famous a 
rendezvous of milkmaids on May 
Day. Within a hundred yards of the 
London Spa were the New Wells for 
a theatrical and spectacular 
entertainment. The early 1730s 
were the heyday of Islington Spa, 
when the patronage of Princesses 
Amelia and Caroline gave a new 
cachet to the area's sometime 
disreputable entertainments. 

“By 1744 Thomas Rosoman had 
become the manager of the New 
Wells, which continued to host a 
lively mix of low and infamously 
disorderly diversions: topical song, 
tumbling, 'Grand Dances (both 
Serious and Comic)', and a 
concluding pantomime with 
Rosoman as Harlequin, his most 
famous role. 

► “The theatre was converted for 
use as a Wesleyan tabernacle in 
1752, but had been demolished by 
1756 for the building of Rosoman's 

► “In 1745 there was an acrobatic 
giant, a tightrope-walking 7 ft 4in. 
fifteen-year-old. Rosoman moved 
on to Sadler's Wells in 1746 and the 
New Wells closed in 1747, save for 
a short-lived revival in 1750 under 
Thomas Yates, who ran the Red 
Lion adjoining to the north. 

► “When I first met Stephen I met 
him in the Exmouth arms at the 
corner of Exmouth Market, 

June 27 

Michael Segers has been listening to three 
operas, ana his choice of works has been 
inspired by Death and Mr Pickwick. Here 
is Michael s explanation for his first 
choice: "One of the most haunting 
passages in that book is the encounter 
with tne magpie, whose curse sets in 
motion the sad story of Pickwick 
illustrator (Jarvis believes, Pickwick 
creator), Robert Seymour. So, my first 
opera of the day (tying in with my desire 
especially to get to know more Rossini 
operas) is La Gaza Ladra, or The Thieving 
Magpie, which links to another interest of 
mine, because in one of the Tintin tales, 
The Castafiore Emerald, the villain is a 
thieving magpie. " 


Michael's verdict: "What can can I say? Signor 
Rossini has surprised me with the beautiful music 
of The Thieving Magpie, the first installment of 
my operatic stay-cation today. It is no surprise 
that his music would be beautiful, but with that 
title, I had assumed this would be a comic 
opera, but it isn't. It is an "opera semiseria," 
although to me, it is fully serious. Poor Ninetta, 
a servant, must deal with her employer's 
suspicion that she has stolen some silverware 
(hmmm... see the title). Next, her father is 
condemned to death, then after she fights off 
the unwanted attentions of the mayor, she is 
condemned to death - for stealing a spoon. In 
fact, her friends, family, and boyfriend think 
that she has been executed. But, since it is only 
"semiseria," everything works out well for 
everyone, especially those of us lucky enough to 
hear it, except the evil mayor. Instead of 
comedy, though, Rossini just unleashes music 
that just grows more ana more beautiful. Now, 
this is what a vacation is all about." 

f( igrAJira R 


Opera Euryanthe von Carl Maria 
von Weber 

http/tyoutu be/okmlXJmHeAQ 


► Michael's second choice of opera is 
Euryanthe, by Weber. Over to 

=c 'rjr , w --- ‘ : "What a wonderful day! I 
experienced Weber's opera Der Freischutz 
after I found it in Death and Mr Pickwick. 

But, I didn't really like it, and so today, 
dedicated to operas that I could link to Death 
and Mr Pickwick, I checked Weber's 
Euryanthe - same composer but no reference 
in DaMP. It is such an amazing opera, a 
treasure of German romanticism, that I 
wonder why it isn't better known. Wow. I'll 
say it: the Met needs to consider this. 
Strangely, Der Freischutz is much better 
known, with a variety of DVDs, while, as far 
as I can tell, there is only one DVD of 
Euryanthe. With this surprise after the 
surprise of Rossini's Magpie, I have to say that 
this has been a wonderful day in the opera- 

Here is Michael's third choice of opera, 
inspired by Death and Mr 
Pickwick: nttps: / / www, youtube, com/ watch? 
v=Qq81QJeaAaM Here is Michael's verdict: 
"Now, this is a third surprise, with my third 
opera today, Massenet's Don Quichotte. I 
don't believe I have ever used this word to 
describe an opera, but here goes: boring. 
When you try to turn the hundreds of pages 
into a two hour opera, you are going to end 
up with a Classics Illustrated comic, 
especially since the opera is not actually 
based on the novel Don Quixote but on a play 
based on the novel. There is too much 
emphasis on Dulcinea (Dulcinee in French), 
which leaves the Don as not much more than 
a dirty old man. And the music certainly isn't 
what 1 expected from the composer of 
Exclarmonde, Thais, Manon, and Werther." 

June 27 

Sir Walter Scott 


I read Walter Scott's The Antiquary 
■ the subject of Peter Stadlera's 
latest post - when I was working on 
Death and Mr Pickwick, and quite 
enjoyed it. But the thing I 
particularly like is that Peter has 
found that there is a whisky which 
takes its name from Scott's novel. I 
haven't drunk whisky for years, but 
I would be prepared to drink THIS 
whisky just because of its literary 


“In Death and Mr Pickwick we read about 
The Antiquary, a Walter Scott Novel. The 
hero, known as Major Neville, is believed 
to be the illegitimate son of Edward 
Neville, brother to the Earl of Glenallan. 
He meets and falls in love with Isabella 
Wardour in England, who, mindful of her 
father's hatred of illegitimacy, rejects his 
suit. Under the assumed name of Lovel, 
he follows her home to Fairport, Scotland, 
meeting en route Jonathan Oldbuck, Laird 
of Monkbarns, a neighbour of Isabella's 
father, Sir Arthur Wardour. Oldbuck, the 
antiquary of the title, takes an interest in 
Lovel who is a sympathetic listener to his 
learned discourses and whose misfortunes 
in love remind him of his own. 

“As a young man Oldbuck had been 
hopelessly attached to Eveline Neville, 
now wife to the Earl of Glenallan. Lovel 
saves Sir Arthur and Isabella from 
drowning when surprised by the tide but 
is forced to leave Fairport after wounding 
Oldbuck's nephew Captain Hector 
M'lntyre, a rival for Isabella's hand, in a 
duel. In his absence Lovel distinguishes 
himself as a soldier and secretly rescues 
Sir Arthur from the financial ruin to which 
his reliance on his unscrupulous German 
agent Dousterswivel would have led him. 
Lovel finally returns to Fairport and is 
unexpectedly revealed to be the son and 
heir of the Earl of Glenallan (and of 
Oldbuck's unrequited love Eveline). In this 
new guise, he wins Isabella's hand. What a 

“Published in 1816, The Antiquary 
sold out within three weeks (print 
run of 6,000 copies). There was 
particular praise for the character 
of the beggar Edie Ochiltree who 
plays an important role in bringing 
the relationship between Lovel and 
Isabella to a happy conclusion. 

“If you want to have a drink on the 
happy couple there is a Scotch 
Whisky available named ‘The 
Antiquary’. It is produced as 12- 
and 21 -year old Superior Deluxe 
Blended Scotch Whiskies. The 
Antiquary has a particularly high 
percentage of malt to grain 
whiskies (55% - 45%). The finest 
available malts and grains have 
been selected from the 
highlands, lowlands and islands of 

► “There are statues at Abbotsford, 
Sir Walter Scott’s home near 
Galashiels, Scotland, showing 
characters from his writing. This is 
The Antiquary by the way. Cheers!” 

June 28 

► It is a general truth of historical 
investigations that you do not get the 
evidence you want, but rather the evidence 
that history leaves behind. This truth applies 
to Seymour, not least in connection with his 
art: certain very significant pictures by 
Seymour are missing - including one whose 
creation forms a scene in Death and Mr 
Pickwick: his picture of the Society of 
Antiquaries. It is an extraordinary 
coincidence that Peter Stadlera posted about 
Scott's novel The Antiquary yesterday - 1 was 
already thinking of posting about Seymour's 
lost picture, ana when I saw Peter's post, 
that settled the subject of my own post 

► Seymour's lost picture is significant when 
considering his likely contribution to The 
Pickwick Papers, given that Mr Pickwick has 
antiquarian pursuits, as expressed in the Bill 
Stumps episode. 

Of course, it is not that Seymour's interest in 
antiquaries proves that he was responsible 
for Mr Pickwick's antiquarianism, but it 
certainly makes it plausible; indeed, the first 
stirrings of Mr Pickwick's antiquarian interests 
emerge in the first part of The Pickwick 
Papers - when the evidence points to 
Seymour being in charge - as when Mr 
Pickwick seeks the source of the Hampstead 
Ponds (an antiquarian matter, given that the 
ponds are artificial). Perhaps the lost picture 
resembled George Cruikshank's take on the 
Society which I have included in this post. 

You will notice in Cruikshank's picture that a 
scroll is held up which essentially repeats the 
idea of Bill Stumps fooling Mr Pickwick: It 
says "K.I.S.S. M.Y. " and a letter "R" follows, 
presumably indicating that the scroll says 
Kiss My Arse", though the antiquarian 
proclaims the scroll to be a curious relic of 

And I did trace the day on which 
Seymour drew the picture. 
Seymour's son, who mentioned his 
father's picture of the Society, said 
that his father had seen the Duke 
of Sussex at the Society's meeting. 
So, I contacted the Society of 
Antiquaries, which still exists, and 
asked them whether the Duke had 
ever attended a meeting. And he 
did! On 9th December 1830. 

But even if the picture never 
appears, it isn't the only example 
of Seymour drawing antiquaries. 
Take a look at the last image, 
which forms part of Seymour's 
series featuring the adventures of 
Peter Pickle, and in particular look 
at the top left-hand drawing... 

June 29 

Here is an amazing post by Peter 
Stadlera - for the first time we 
have a post in honour of one of the 
official Death and Mr Pickwick 
pets, Dory the parrot! 

“To honour Dory, our Death and Mr 
Pickwick parrot, we will have a 
post on the legendary Parrot pub in 
Canterbury. The Parrot is not just 
the oldest pub in Canterbury, it is 
one of the oldest buildings in the 
city. On our last Death and Mr 
Pickwick trip we went there. 

“Originally known as St Radigund's Hall, it 
was built on Roman foundations in 1370 
just inside the Roman City Wall. In 1937 St 
Radigund's Hall, which took its name from 
the Monks of St Radigund's at Bradsole 
near Dover who owed properties here in 
the 1 3th Century, looked set to be 
demolished when it was condemned as 
unfit for human habitation. As demolition 
began it appeared to be seven dwellings 
fitted inside one building. During 
restoration the building was found to 
contain many fine architectural details 
dating back to the 14th century. After the 
restoration it was used as a girls club, 
later being used as a restaurant and 
public house. 

5 > 

“The 1470 staircase frames still exist and 
Flemish 15th century bricks line the 
building on the east side of the terrace. 
Roman bricks were used and the 
triangular structures viewed from the 
terraced garden at the rear are 1 5th 
century chimneys. Today this building 
continues to stand strong and remains a 
fine example of a Wealden Hall House, 
and one of Canterbury's most interesting 
pubs. Following a sympathetic 
refurbishment in 2008/9, The Parrot is 
now a stunning drinking and dining venue 
in the heart of Canterbury. The pub was 
renamed The Parrot after hearing local 
rumours that it was once called The 
Parrot in previous centuries. Cheers Dory 
and Michael!” 

June 29 

I have posted quite a few pieces of 
porcelain on this page, but this one 
is probably the most surprising. It 
is a Staffordshire reproduction of 
one of Seymours drawings - but 
NOT from Pickwick. Instead, it’s a 
reproduction of one of the 
drawings in Sketches by Seymour, 
"Vy Sarah, you’re drunk!" 

► Although facially the characters 
are not very close to Seymours 
drawing, the poses and the caption 
are the same. The item is quite 
rare - I have seen one on sale on 
ebay for £600. 

V • a. > 


This edition of Sketches by 
Seymour has important 
biographical material written 
anonymously by Seymour's son. It 
was here that I learnt about 
Seymour's sketch of the Society of 
Antiquaries, which was featured in 
yesterday's post. 

June 29 

As you know, we have an official 
Death and Mr Pickwick cat (Sir 
Pelzi), an official Death and Mr 
Pickwick parrot (Dory), an official 
Death and Mr Pickwick cockatiel 
(Gypsy) and even an official Death 
and Mr Pickwick insect (the 
mayfly). Michael Segers thinks that 
it is time we had an official plant, 
and has nominated the aspidistra, 
for the reasons given in his post 
and I wholeheartedly agree! 

Grade Fields The Biggest 
Aspidistra In The World 1938 

“Peter Stadlera and I - each blessed with an 
official Death and Mr Pickwick animal - often 
refer to our animals, his Sir Pelzi (the official 
cat) and my Dory (the official parrot). But, I 
want to propose an official plant, referred to in 
the novel: "Seymour entered the Bull, where two 
tall aspidistras told of its respectability, while its 
larder came highly recommended by tne hams 
hanging from columns beside the coffee room." 
Aspidistras were long a favorite of those aiming 
for middle class respectability, as shown by 
George Orwell's title, Keep the Aspidistra Flying. 
Perhaps they are the mini-vans of the plant 

Michael has also posted a link to a song, The 
Biggest Aspidistra in the World, by Gracie 
Fields, which can form a welcoming fanfare for 
our new official Death and Mr Pickwick plant! 

https:/ /www. 

June 30 

► Towards the end of Death and Mr 
Pickwick, Scripty mentions the 
scores of Pickwickian drawings in 
Mr Inbelicate's house - because 
many artists illustrated The 
Pickwick Papers after the original 
trio of Seymour, Buss and Phiz, 
and, as Scripty says, "Pickwick is, I 
would imagine, the most 
illustrated work in the entire 
history of English literature." It is 
as though there is an inherent 
illustrative quality in the text, 
arising from Dickens's involvement 
with Seymour. 

One aspect to this, which I have 
mentioned previously, is the idea of 
extra-illustrating: collections of 
Pickwickian drawings were sold 
which could, in theory, be bound into 
a copy of The Pickwick Papers - and 
indeed, I recently posted about the 
extra-illustrations of William Heath. 
However, I had assumed that the 
practice of selling collections of 
extra-illustrations was confined to 
the earlier days of the Pickwick 
phenomenon - Heath's collection for 
instance was published in 1837. I was 
therefore quite surprised to discover 
that a collection of extra-illustrations 
was published as late as 1921 . 

► As you can see from the picture 
showing the full page of one of his 
extra-illustrations, the margins 
were very wide, presumably to 
allow the picture to be cut to size, 
so that it could adapt to any of the 
editions of The Pickwick Papers 
that had been published since 


I have found this short video which 
describes The Bunker as "The Mona 
Lisa of golf paintings": 



This is something of a parallel to 
Seymour's Mr Pickwick Addresses 
the Club, which has been 
described as "The Mona Lisa of 
book illustrations". 

June 30 

Here Is another brilliant post by Peter Stadlera, about the 
Italian poet Tasso. I was led to reading - and reading 
about - Tasso when I discovered that Seymour had done a 
painting based on a scene from Tasso which was 
exhibited at the Royal Academy. This is another of 
Seymour’s lost works. 

I was particularly interested in Tasso's madness, which 
Peter mentions, because it showed the strains of artistic 
creation, as exhibited by James Gillray and by Seymour 
himself. What's more, Tasso's madness appears to have 
been exacerbated by his concerns about an inset episode 
in his epic poem Gerusalemme liberate, and this struck 
me as a parallel to Seymour's concerns about an inset 
episode in Pickwick, namely the story of the dying clown. 
For these reasons, I knew that I had to insert something 
about Tasso in Death and Mr Pickwick. 

Whafs more, Elaine and I went in search of traces of 
Tasso in Sorrento last year - showing that Death and Mr 
Pickwick, like The Pickwick Papers, can be a direct 
stimulus to travel. 

“In Death and Mr Pickwickwe have 
many references to the Italian poet 
Torquato Tasso (1544-1 595). He was 
the author of Gerusalemme liberata, 
regarded as the greatest epic poem 
written in Italian. From about 1576 
until his death Tasso suffered from an 
intermittent psychosis. Fits of 
restlessness ana depression 
alternated with period of paranoia 
and at times hallucinations. Although 
he continued to write profusely, 
taking too literally the humanists' 
vaunt that a great poet can confer 
immortality on whomever he chooses 
to exalt in verse, he never again 
displayed the verve that 
characterizes his masterpiece. 

“In June 1 577 he was confined in a 
convent after attacking a servant 
with a knife. Escaping to his sister's 
home in Sorrento, he came disguised 
in tattered clothing and told her that 
her brother Torquato was dead, 
revealing his true identity only after 
her fainting had reassured him of her 
love. Having received permission to 
rejoin the Este court, Tasso arrived in 
Ferrara in February 1579 during the 
celebration of Duke Alfonso's third 
marriage, to MargheritaGonzaga. 
Tasso's violent outburst against the 
duke after his arrival drew scant 
attention but resulted in the poet's 
prompt confinement to a hospital, 
which was protracted for 7 years. 


“Not until the publication in 1895 of 
Angelo Solerti's exhaustive biography 
of Tasso was the romantic myth 
(which inspired Johann Wolfgang von 
Goethe's play Torquato Tasso, 1790) 
laid to rest that Tasso was imprisoned 
for having dared to love the duke's 
sister, Duchess Leonora d'Este. 

Gerusalemme liberata, translated as 
Jerusalem Delivered into English 
octaves by Edward Fairfax in 1600, 
enjoyed a long vogue in England and 
throughout Europe. His coronation as 
poet laureate had been proposed 
before death overtook him on April 
25, 1 595, in the monastery of S. 
Onofrioin Rome. 

i the name of Creator but God and the 
(Torquato Tasso) 

“The original poem influenced Edmund 
Spenser (the English poet not the private 
investigator from one of my favourite US- 
series Spenser for Hire), whose unfinished 
epic, The Faerie Qjjeene (we’ve already 
had a post about that), is still more 
complicated in plot than Tasso's poem 
and, being an allegory, affords the 
supernatural an even greater share in the 
action. In Milton's Paradise Lost, the 
council in hell (first half of Book II) owes 
much to Tasso's similar scene in Book IV. 
Someone with sufficient background in 
Old English might profitably compare the 
tirade of Satan in Book IV to the 
remarkably similar speech of Satan in the 
Anglo-Saxon Genesis. 

And in Death and Mr Pickwick there are 
more references to Italy... 

July 1 

"A splendidly ambitious and 

SHORTLISTED tongue-in-cheek pastiche of the 

FOR THE Victorian novel: The Pickwick 

HWA GOLDSBORO Papers will never be the same 

DEBUT CROWN again." 


Death and Mr Pickwick is now 
SHORTLISTED for the 2016 Historical 
Writers' Association Goldsboro Crown 
prize for the best debut historical 

Previously, the novel had been on the 
longlist of twelve novels. Last night, 
Elaine and I attended the event at 
which the shortlist of six novels was 
announced - and Death and Mr 
Pickwickwas selected, and will now 
go through to the final on October 
21st! Very excited indeed!!!!! 

July 2 

Just before attending the event on 
Thursday at Goldsboro Books, when 
Death and Mr Pickwick was 
shortlisted for the Historical Writers' 
Association's award for the best 
debut historical novel, Elaine and I 
popped into a bar, 68 and Boston, in 
Greek Street, Soho. The reason we 
went there is that 68 and Boston is 
one of the very few places where one 
can find the pineapple rum Stiggins' 
Fancy, named after the character in 
The Pickwick Papers who was always 
tippling pineapple rum. We have 
been wanting to try Stiggins' Fancy 
for ages. And I have to say, it didn't 

Here you will see me sampling a 
pineapple daiquiri. 

68 and Boston is an atmospheric 
bar, with very friendly staff. It 
certainly took OUR fancy. Take a 
look at their facebook page: 

https: / /www. 

July 2 

At the start of Death and Mr Pickwick, a 
magpie curses the Seymour family. They 
are fascinating birds, associated with 
thievery, voracious eating and the colours 
black and white - and their scientific 
name pica, sounds a little like a harbinger 
of Pickwick. Pica indeed has become the 
name of an eating disorder, whose 
sufferers typically eat earth, which 
chimes a little with the references to mud 
in the novel. Michael Segers has posted 
this lovely video and says: "I do love these 
magpies... one more reason to cherish the 
novel Death and Mr Pickwick by Stephen 
Jarvis, because I didn't know anything 
about these amazing birds until I 
discovered his amazing novel." 
ickwick/ posts/8700243431 31 41 9 

July 2 

David Whittaker has just posted 
this picture which forms the title- 
page to one of the editions of 
Sketches by Seymour. Notice that 
Seymour uses a self- referential 
technique - the images behind the 
showman are pages from the book. 
Also note the clown peeking out 
from the curtains. Such a clown 
appears in Death and Mr Pickwick, 
at Richardson's show - as I recall, I 
read about a clown doing this at 
Richardson's show, and obviously 
Seymour must have seen such a 
clown himself. 

David has also posted this image of 
the White Hart, in Southwark, 
where Sam Weller encountered Mr 
Pickwick for the first time. 
Strangely enough, on Thursday, 
Elaine and I were quite close to 
this part of London, at Borough 
Market, where part of Pickwick was 
also set. I shall be posting about 
this soon... 

Myrtle Beach named 'drunkest beach town in America' 
based on breathalyzer app data 

John Thomas McElheny has just 
posted this and said "Mr. Pickwick 
and entourage from Death and Mr. 
Pickwick by Stephen Jarvis would 
like all these pubs." 

http : / / www. wmbf news . com / story 

July 2 

The poet Edmund Spenser, who is most 
famous for The Faerie Queene, is 
mentioned in Death and Mr Pickwick, and 
it so happens that a character in an 
American crime show, Spenser for Hire, 
takes his name from the poet. I have 
never seen Spenser for Hire, but Peter 
Stadlera is a great admirer of the show, 
and the character's link to the poet means 
that Spenser for Hire also has a link to 
Death and Mr Pickwick. I am fascinated by 
the idea of Death and Mr Pickwick forming 
a pathway to other interesting things, so 
here is Peter's post about Spenser for 
Hire. If any Death and Mr Pickwick fans 
happen to be in Boston, near a location 
featured in Spenser for Hire, do send me 
a pic showing a copy of Death and Mr 
Pickwick in the location. 

“In Death and Mr Pickwickwe read 
about Spenser, the English poet. As I 
mentioned in my post on Tasso this 
didn't refer to the character of 
Spenser, the private investigator, in 
the US-series Spenser for Hire. But 
there's IS a connection between 
Robert B. Parker's character of 
Spenser (the private eye) to the 
English poet. Spenser the private 
investigator is named after the poet - 
and the character was wont to point 
out that his name was Spenser, 
spelled ‘like the poet.’ (His first 
name was never revealed.) 

“He appeared for the first time in 1 973 in 
The Godwulf Manuscript, in which he is hired 
by a university to retrieve a stolen medieval 
document, an investigation that triggers a 
murder. (Stephen could hire Spenser for 
finding the lost manuscript). The first pages 
of the book revealed much of what readers 
came to love about Spenser — his impatience 
with pomposity, his smart-alecky wit, his 
self-awareness and supreme self-confidence. 
Spenser is a bruiser in body but a softie at 
heart, someone who never shies from danger 
or walks away from a threat to the innocent. 
Spenser is an admirer of any kind of 
expertise. He believes in psychotherapy. He’s 
a great cook. He’s a boxer, a weightlifter and 
a jogger, a consumer of doughnuts and 
coffee, a privately indulgent appreciator 
(from a distance) of pretty women, a Red Sox 
fan, a dog lover. 

“Most crucially, Spenser is faithful in love 
(to his longtime companion, Susan 
Silverman, a psychologist) and in 
friendship (to his frequent partner in anti- 
crime, a dazzlingly charming, morally 
idiosyncratic black man named Hawk). 

And usually with the two of them as 
seconds, he has remained indomitable, 
vanquishing crime bosses, drug dealers, 
sex fiends, cold-blooded killers, corrupt 
politicians and several other varieties of 
villain. Parker wrote the Spenser novels in 
the first person, employing the blunt, 
masculine prose style that is often 
described as Hemingwayesque and he has 
the sociological and psychological and 
physiological living eye of a Dickens. 

“The charm of the Spenser series is the 
Boston setting. Spenser is a prodigious 
reader who often quotes great poets 
(Robert Frost, T.S. Eliot, Shakespeare and 
Wallace Stevens are favorites), and tosses 
off obscure literary references. Indeed 
Spenser the poet’s Faerie Qjjeene 
celebrated the knightly virtues that the 
detective supposedly embodies. Edmund 
Spenser wrote in his preface to The Faerie 
Qijeene that his aim was ‘to fashion a 
gentleman or noble person in virtuous and 
gentle discipline’. The poem is full of 
knights vanquishing dragons, and virtue 
triumphing over vice. Spenser the private 
investigator’s name is also a nod to 
Chandler’s hero, also named after an 
Elizabethan poet. Spenser also 
popularized a new sensitivity in crime 

“The early private eyes were mostly Neanderthals 
toward women, and Spenser's long romance with 
brainy Susan Silverman was one of the genre's first 
examples of a tough-guy hero having a complicated 
relationship with a woman he accepted as an equal. 
Spenser's close bond with the black hit man Hawk 
was another milestone. His cases start off simply 
before starting wildly out of control. Well, Spenser, 
the private investigator, is maybe a modem Sir 

July 3 

Today is the 200th anniversary of the 
death of a boxer mentioned in the 
Daffy Club scene of Death and Mr 
Pickwick, namely Dutch Sam. 

Sam, whose real name was Samuel 
Elias, was the inventor of the right- 
hand uppercut, and feared as the 
deadliest puncher of his day. I was 
informed of the anniversary by my 
friend Alex Joanides, and today Alex 
will be visiting Dutch Sam-related 
locations, and taking photos which I 
hope to be able to post later in the 
week. But, I wanted to do something 
myself to mark the day, and I drafted 
in Elaine to help. 


As you know, Elaine is fond of the occasional 
sin, and the appropriate brand to celebrate 
Dutch Sam's life is Daffy's Gin. I have posted 
about Daffy's Gin before • but if you missed 
that post, check out the company's 
website where 
you will find recipes for various cocktails. 
Elaine opted for Straight Over Ice" - whose 
recipe simply involves one large ice cube, 
and a generous measure of Daffy's. Elaine's 
verdict: "Warming on a cold summer's day." 

I then mentioned to her what I said about 
Dutch Sam in Death and Mr Pickwick - that 
he trained on gin. "Don't we all?" she replied, 
before lifting her glass once again, and 
almost as quickly as a Dutch Sam uppercut. 

Cheers, Dutch Sam! You are not forgotten. 

July 3 

Here is a lovely video featuring Sir 
Pelzi, the official Death and Mr 
Pickwick cat. 



July 3 

I think most people are glad that dogfighting is 
now outlawed. However, I thought it was 
necessary to include a dogfighting scene in 
Death and Mr Pickwick, and in order to research 
the subject, i read journalistic investigations 
into modern-day illegal dogfighting. Here is an 
excellent post by Peter Stadlera on this and the 
other horrible blood sports of the era. 

"In Death and Mr Pickwick we not only read 
about pugilists but also about the Westminster 
Pit. The Westminster Pit was a well-known blood 
sport arena in nineteenth-century London. It 
reached the height of its of popularity between 
1820 and 1830, and hosted such spectacles as 
dog fighting, cock fighting, bear, badger, 
monkey, and rat-baiting. Whatever our present 
day sensibilities (personally I don't like fights like 
these), these blood sports were both legal and 
highly popular at the time, although the 
Westminster Pit openly admitted that its 
activities brought notoriety to the district. 

“It was located on Duck Lane, Orchard Street (now St 
Matthew's Street), in London. Its dimensions were 
approximately 20 feet (6.1m) by 18 feet (5.5m). The 
gallery was 3 feet (0.91 m) above the arena and was 
capable of containing 200 people. The pit was fitted with 
wooden sides at elbow height and a rim on which the 
clients could lean. Rat-baiting was a blood sport involving 
the kilting of rats in a pit by a dog; hence pit bull 
terriers. Tt was a popular sport until the beginning of the 
20th century. Rat-baiting involved filling a pit with rats, 
with bets placed on how tang it would take for the dog to 
kill them all. The most famous dog to perform in the 
Westminster Pit was a Bull Terrier named Billy, whose 
fame was his rat-baiting ability. The October 1822 edition 
of The Sporting Magazine describes his feat of killing 100 
rats in six minutes and twenty- five seconds: almost six 
minutes faster than what was wagered. Billy's best time 
ever is recorded as five minutes, or slightly over ‘by a 
very few seconds’. Pierce Egan gives Billy's date of death 
as 23 February 1829. 

“Canine at the Westminster Pit' (from 
Punch, 1862) shows Pit Bull terriers set in 
a pit at Westminster. The one on the right 
is Derby, the dog of Lord Derby, the 
Conservative Leader. The one on the left 
is the Westbury Pup. This refers to an 
ongoing battle in parliament during which 
Lord Westbury was at odds with Lord 
Chelmsford. It stemmed from an omission 
in the new Bankruptcy Act which meant 
that some officials of the Insolvent Court 
had lost pay. However, when Lord Derby 
rose to intervene in the argument, Lord 
Westbury turned on him. According to Mr 
Punch, great fun was had by all, and the 
clerks at the centre of the row would 
simply have to wait a little longer for 
their case to be resolved.” 

July 4 

Recently, I posted about some 
Seymour watercolours which, in my 
opinion, are likely to be forgeries. I 
have to say that this picture too, 
which I saw on ebay, and is 
supposedly by John Leech, gives 
me cause for concern. I must make 
it clear that I am not attacking the 
reputation of the vendor, and that 
the picture may well be a genuine 
Leech, but let’s just say that there 
are legitimate questions to ask 
about this picture, and I don't think 
the questions have been 
adequately answered so far. 

First, some background. After Seymour's 
suicide, Leech applied for the job of 
Pickwick's illustrator, but his application 
arrived too late - Hablot Browne had already 
got the job. I deeded not to feature Leech as 
a character in Death and Mr Pickwick 
because he was never really a candidate for 
the illustrator's job • he was not in the same 
position as Crowquill, who WAS a genuine 
candidate, but was rejected. In other words, 
Leech doesn't form any part of the history of 
The Pickwick Papers, though he did submit a 
Pickwick drawing to Dickens, which I saw in 
New York: it is nothing at all like the picture 
in this post - it features the scene in The 
Bagman's Tale in which the chair comes alive. 
Some years later, Leech did become a 
Dickensian artist, however - he famously 
illustrated the first edition of A Christmas 

The picture in this post, though, is an 
unsigned, "rare, unpublished proof. I 
asked the vendor how it could be 
identified for sure as a Leech if it was 
unsigned. I was told that a "Dickens 
expert" in the USA had said that it was by 
Leech. But when I pressed the vendor for 
the name of this expert, I was told that I 
couldn't be told that, as he was a very 
busy man, and had been troubled too 
much by the vendor already. I asked about 
provenance, and that bothers me too: it 
has the sort of murky past that one 
typically associates with forgeries, that is 
to say, with no clear history of previous 
ownership - it was allegedly found behind 
a very dirty old painting with a 
woodwormy frame. 

And the big question is this: if Leech had 
already been rejected for the Pickwick 
position, why on earth would he bother 
producing this proof? The alternative 
explanation is that the picture comes 
from a later period in Leech's career 
which is, to the best of my knowledge, 
completely unknown: that he produced 
"extra-illustrations" for Pickwick, in the 
manner of William Heath or C.E. Brock 
whose Pickwickian extra-illustrations I 
have featured in recent posts. And if he 
did have this unknown episode in his 
career, one must then ask: why was this 
proof unpublished? It is a perfectly good 
picture, and one would expect it to find a 
market in the heyday of Pickwick. 

As I said, there are legitimate questions to 
ask about this picture... 

July 4 

A fantastic review of Death and Mr Pickwick, by Sally 
England, has just appeared on the goodreads site. Many 
thanks, Sally. Here it is: 

"Simpty stunning. One of the best books I've read for ages. 
Towards the end I couldn't stop reading so ended up 
keeping on keeping on all through the night - it's that 
addictive. I'm a sucker for big fat complex novels from 
any era but a modem one that is a pastiche of C 1 9th 
literature is always an absolute winner (Charles Parser's 
The()uincunx is a massive favourite) and when it includes 
rumination on literary copyright and intellectual 
copyright too then all my nappy buttons are pressed. If 
that makes it sound like DaMP might be dry and boring 
then it’s not. The first couple of pages present a universe 
where you quickly find your feet, only to have the rug 
pulled from under you almost immediately and after that 
its a slipping and sliding meta-fiction chase after the 
slipperiness of stories and storytelling for 800 pages of 
beautifully constructed literary detection full of colour 
and character. You're drawn in and captivated just as 
Pick wick itself does. Jarvis could easily have written this 
as a straight biographical work positing various theories 
along the way, but now much more fun to turn it into a 
novel. It's a long read but a scintillating one and you'll be 
itching to read7re-read Pickwick by the end of it. And 
when you do get to the end of it, why not treat yourself 
to a double glass o' the inwariabfe?" 

July 4 

In Death and Mr Pickwick, the Italian poet Tasso 
mentions a religious relic, the finger of Doubting 
Thomas. Here is another brilliant post by Peter 
Stadlera which not only gives the story of 
Thomas, illustrated by a great painting by 
Caravaggio, but also tells us where we can see 
his finger today! 

“In Death and Mr Pickwick we read about some 
Christian relics and their whereabouts - one is 
the finger of St Thomas. ‘Doubting’ Thomas was 
unable to accept the resurrection even though 
Christ stood there before him saying ‘Unless I 
see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger 
where the nails were, and put my hand into his 
side, I will not believe it.’ So Christ allowed him 
to put a suspicious finger inside the wound made 
in his side by a Roman soldier's lance. After 
Thomas incredulously poked the Lord's wounds, 
he believed in the Resurrection and called out 
‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus responded, 

‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; 
blessed are those who have not seen and yet 
have believed.’ 

“Even today, someone who is 
obstinately skeptical and 
demanding of empirical proof is 
referred to as a ‘Doubting 
Thomas’. Doubting Thomas was 
painted by Caravaggio for the 
Marchese Vincenzo Giustiniani 
(shown on the left). 

“If you doubt the story, you can see 
Thomas's finger itself, preserved in the 
church of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme in 
Rome (they've got three pieces of the True 
Cross, too). Some say that this relic has 
been in Santa Croce from the time of St. 
Helen (third century, i.e. the time that 
the body was moved to Edessa). In the 
centre of the reliquary, remade after the 
French revolution, is an oval case with 
both sides of crystal in which a holder in 
the shape of a finger with two openings in 
the side is placed. Through the openings 
the finger bone can be clearly seen. Some 
other finger pieces of Thomas did return 
from Edessa to India (instead of to 
Europe). A reliquary with some hand 
bones is preserved in the St. Thomas 
Museum in Milapore. Stay tuned for more 
relics, fakes ana forgeries!” 

July 5 

► Here is my friend Greg Holmes with 
the American paperback edition of 
Death and Mr Pickwick in the 
Harvard Bookstore, Cambridge, 
Massachusetts, on June 14th, 2016. 
I actually went to this very 
bookstore when I was doing DaMP 
research at Harvard. 

July 5 

In The Pickwick Papers, Bob Sawyer 
“knocked double knocks on the 
door of Borough Market office and 
took short naps on the steps 
alternately, until daybreak, under 
the firm impression that he lived 
there, and had forgotten the key.” 

Borough Market is over a thousand 
years old, and the other day I 
conducted extensive Pickwickian 
research both in the market itself, 
and in the Market Porter pub 
beside it... 

However, Pickwickian research is 
an ongoing process, rather than a 
finite goal to be attained, and so it 
was that I continued my scientific 
and historical investigations at the 
Duke of Sussex, a public house not 
far from Waterloo, and named 
after the character whom Seymour 
met when he drew his picture of 
the Society of Antiquaries. 

But the path to Pickwickian 
enlightenment leads ever 
onwards... and so I took myself to an 
establishment Peter Stadlera has 
visited, and posted about, 
Champagne Charlie's, which takes its 
name from the song that Moses 
Pickwick liked to sing. Note in 
particular the old spelling "segar" on 
the wall - a spelling which a 
character in Death and Mr Pickwick, 
William Clarke, claimed he had made 
unfashionable, by popularising the 
spelling "cigar . 

May your own Pickwickian research 
be as deep and profound as mine! 

July 6 

On Sunday, this facebook page celebrated the two 
hundredth anniversary of the death of a boxer mentioned 
in Death and Mr Pickwick, Dutch Sam. On that day, Alex 
Joanides and John Warren carried out their own 
celebration of Dutch Sam, with a tour of Dutch Sam- 
related sites, but they also did something else: they have 
relaunched the Daffy Club! Alex has now set up this 
facebook page: https: / / www. 
Club-26868 154683 1239/, and if you scroll down you will 
see the pics that Alex and John took on Sunday. 

For a while. Alex has thought about relaunching the Daffy 
Club, and the intention is that the first full meeting of 
the club will be held in London on November 12th.Tf you 
are interested in attending, do get in touch. Alex is 
taking the title Lord President Baron Nab'em while John is 
Lord Commissary General. I have been invited to become 
Lord Privy Seat, a title originally taken by another person 
mentioned in Death and Mr Pickwick, Frosty-Faced Fogo. 
Alex said: “There is even a suggestion that Fogo actuals 
attended meetings of the Daffy Club either wearing or 
carrying a privy seat. Obviously, in the interests of 
authenticity I fully expect you to turn up similarly 

July 6 

Peter Stadlera continues his examination of the 
holy relics mentioned in Death and Mr Pickwick. 
Although most of the sites that Death and Mr 
Pickwick fans could visit are in England, there 
are some great ones abroad too, as you can see 
in this post. 

“In Death and Mr Pickwick we read about the 
Titulus Crucis (Latin for ‘Title of the Cross'). 

That is a piece of wood, claimed to be a relic of 
the True Cross, kept in the church of Santa Croce 
in Gerusalemme in Rome. Christian tradition 
claims that the relic is half of the cross's titulus 
(inscription) and a portion of the True Cross. It is 
generally either ignored by scholars or 
considered to be a medieval forgery. The board 
is made of walnut wood, 25x14 cm in size, 2.6 
cm thick and has a weight of 687 g. It is 
inscribed on one side with three lines, of which 
the first one is mostly destroyed. The second 
line is written in Greek letters and reversed 
script, the third in Latin letters, also with 
reversed script. 

“The Church of Santa Croce in 
Gerusalemme was built about 325 AD by 
Saint Helena (the mother of Emperor 
Constantine the Great) after her 
pilgrimage to the Holy Land, during which 
she reportedly located the True Cross and 
many other relics which she gave to the 
new church. The Titulus Crucis is alleged 
to have been among these relics. At the 
time of Egeria's pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 
383 a ‘title’ (titulus) was shown as one of 
the relics at Jerusalem : ‘A silver-gilt 
casket is brought in which is the holy 
wood of the Cross. The casket is opened 
and (the wood) is taken out, and both the 
wood of the Cross and the title are placed 
upon the table.’ 

“The 6th-century pilgrim Antoninus 
of Piacenza describes a titulus in 
Jerusalem and its inscription: it 
said Hie est rex ludaeorum ("Here 
is the king of the Jews"), while the 
one kept in Rome shows lesus 
Nazarenus Rex ludaeorum ("Jesus 
the Nazarene king of the Jews"). 

“He also described the wood as nut. 
Sometime before 1145 the relic was 
placed in a box which has the seal of 
Cardinal Gherardo Caccianemici dal 
Orso, raised to the cardinalatein 
1124 as cardinal priest of this church, 
who became Pope in 1 144, as Lucius 
II, thus dating the seal. It was 
apparently forgotten until February 
1 , 1492, when it was discovered by 
workmen restoring a mosaic, hidden 
behind a brick with the inscription 
Titulus Crucis. Tomorrow I shall come 
up with one of the most fascinating 
relics I ever heard of...” 

July 7 

Yesterday, I spoke of Frosty-Faced Fogo, a 
founding member of the Daffy Club, who gets 
a brief mention in Death and Mr Pickwick. 

His real name was John Fogo but he was 
nicknamed Frosty because of his smallpox- 
scarred face, which gave him a frost-like 
appearance. Well, Frosty-Faced Fogo was 
known as a poet - “The Poet Laureate of the 

Boxing Ring” - and my friend Alex Joanides 

shoemaker by trade but his poetry was far 

from being cobblers. Quite good ir 
opinion. However, I should point out that I 

am not a fan of poetry and like Samuel 
Johnson believe ‘poetry should be easily 
understood and unembellished by decorative 
and archaic language’. In other words easily 
understood by everybody!” 

In the poem, 'blunt' means money, 'ticker' 
pocket-watch, and 'lobster raw' the police. 



► Morning Reflections by Frosty-Faced Fogo 


Who has not known that painful hour, 

► When from the fumes of liquor waking, 

► Reason, in part, regains her power, 

► With stomach sick and noddle aching? 


Oh! how we execrate the beer, 

► The gin, the song , the midnight revel; 

► Ah! getting tipsy is divine, 

► But getting sober is the devil. 

► (Left: Night and Morning by Seymour.) 

► My memory is quite confus’d! 

► Why did we have another bowl in? 

► My mouth is parch’d, my bones are 

► And in the gutter I’ve been rolling! 


Night after night to keep it up 

► Is of the system downright 

► Oh! let me have of tea a cup, 

► And bring a glass of soda water. 

► Left by my comrade in the lurch, 

► With lobster raw - confound the liquor! 

► Tis time my pantaloons to search; 

► Ay, Jove I’ve lost my blunt and ticker. 




Then lads, of getting drunk beware, 

► And from my case take timely warning; 

► And let your evening frolic bear 

► The calm reflections of the morning. 


This poem appeared in the Oxford 
Chronicle ana Reading Gazette on 
9th March 1839 , and Fogo was dead 
two weeks later. 

And here is a wonderful thing: I have 
just discovered that a descendant of 
Fogo, who plays in a band called The 
Balkanoes, has set this poem to 
music, and posted a video of the 
band performing it! It’s a really lively 
foot-tapping performance, and here 
is the link: 

https: / /www. 

July 7 

This fascinating post by Peter Stadlera 
follows on from his previous two, about 
holy relics in Death and Mr Pickwick. 
Although this post's subject-matter doesn't 
have an actual connection to Death and 
Mr Pickwick, I have nonetheless shared it 
because the post was inspired by 
something in my novel. And indeed, it 
does refer to Thomas Becket, who of 
course does get mentioned in DaMP. 

“In Death and Mr Pickwick we read about 
fragments from the table used at the Last 
Supper, the Titulus Crucis, the finger of 
Doubting Thomas, thorns from the 
crown... fascinating relics that made me 
think about a notorious relic here in 
Britain: The Rood of Grace. 

“The mechanical Crucifix hoax of the 
16th century was housed in the 
Cistercian Abbey of Boxley (in 1412 
the Abbey was referred to as the 
‘Abbey of the Rood of Grace’). 

Boxley Abbey in Kent was a popular 
stopping-off point for pilgrims on 
their way to St Thomas Becket’s 
shrine in Canterbury. The rood at 
Boxley Abbey had a life-sized figure 
of Christ, which was famous for 
shedding tears. Sometimes the face 
would also move. You can easily 
imagine that this caused great 
wonder among the pious. 

“In 1538, during the Dissolution of 
the Monasteries, Geoffrey Chamber 
was employed to deface the 
monastery and pluck it down, and he 
wrote to Cromwell in 1 538 that he 
had found in it certain engines and 
old wire, with old rotten sticks in the 
back, which caused the eyes to move 
and stir in the figure’s head. He 
conveyed it to Maidstone that day 
and showed it to people who hated 
it. The Holy Rood was afterwards 
taken to London and exhibited by the 
bishop of Rochester at St Paul's. Then 
it was cut to pieces and burnt. 

“I've found a Pilgrim badge (it's 
exhibited in the Museum of 
London), probably of the Rood of 
Grace from Boxley Abbey. This 
badge depicts Jesus Christ on the 
cross. Christ wears a loin cloth and 
a crown. The cross is decorated 
with leaves as if it is bursting into 

“In my research I found another eerie 
and fascinating thing, the automaton 
figure of a monk (from around 1 562) 
that was acquired by the Smithsonian 
Museum in 1977. Well, the elaborate 
pantomime of terror the monk is 
pulling off was supposed to be 
prayer. The clockwork monk walks in 
a square, striking his chest with his 
right arm, raising and lowering a 
small wooden cross and rosary in his 
left hand, turning and nodding his 
head, rolling his eyes and mouthing 
silent obsequies. From time to time, 
he raises his cross to his lips and 
kisses it. 

“Of course there is a story about the moving 
monk: In 1562, the heir to the throne of 
Spain sustained a serious head wound that 
caused him fever and blindness. His father, 
the king, thought all was lost, until the heir 
was reportedly cured by the miraculous 
corpse of a Spanish monk that had been dead 
for 100 years. You see, in his desperation, 
the king had allowed the monk's mummified 
remains to be placed in bed with his sick son 
and he was so thankful when this dubious 
medical treatment actually worked that 
(according to some historians) he 
commissioned a moving replica of the dead 
monk. Here is the video: 
https: / /www. youtube, com/ watch?v=Ycyj76V 
POtc& Gosh, those two 
items are the eeriest robots I ever came 

July 8 

Recently, in a drawer, I found a forgotten 
brown envelope, containing family photos. 
I think it is worth posting some of these 
photos here. They perhaps give a few 
insights into the path towards Death and 
Mr Pickwick. 

So let's start off at my parents' wedding, 
which I think took place in 1942. In the 
back row, second from the left, there is 
my paternal grandfather, and in front of 
him my paternal grandmother. My 
grandfather died Defore I was born, but 
he ran a bookshop, and I suppose that is 
the start of the 'bookish' influence in my 
life. I remember my mother describing 
him as a "walking encyclopedia". I did not 
see my paternal grandmother many times 
in my life, but I attended her 100tn 
birthday party. She too had served in the 
family bookshop. 

The gentleman on the far right is my 
great-grandfather, on my mother's side, 
who had the splendid name Napoleon 
Jonas Porter. He was a violinist, married 
to a pianist (my great-grandmother, then 
dead) and I think that anything 'showbizzy' 
is a useful thing to have in a writer's 
background, because in a way writing is 
performing. In front of Napoleon, is my 
maternal grandmother. She died when I 
was a little boy, and I suppose that was 
my first encounter with death. This was at 
the time of Beatlemania, and although I 
am sure she had no fondness for The 
Beatles' music, one of the few things I 
remember her saying was that John 
Lennon was "handsome''. And of course, 
years later I was to write about Lennon in 
Death and Mr Pickwick. 

► The next photo shows my maternal grandfather, George 
Latham Story. I am interested in the fact that the family 
name was Story - there is some evidence to indicate that 
a surname exerts an influence on occupational choice, 
and perhaps subliminalty this worked upon me. Certainty, 
when I dedicated Death and Mr Pickwick to my mother, I 
made certain I named her as Joan Jarvis, NEE Story. And 
as I did so, I thought of the fact that she was - literally - 
a true Story. And that seemed to be germane to Death 
and Mr Pickwick, a novel which is fact-based fiction. 

► George was a baker and confectioner . . . though I have to 

S that some of things my mother told me about his 
ery would not lead one to try his wares! The bakery 
was rat-infested, and completely unhygienic - my mother 
described a curtain to me which was swarming with black 
beetles: in my mind's eye, they are blocking out sunlight, 

consider using that incident in Death and Mr Pickwick. 

baked a pipe into a loaf by mistake! At one point, I did 

But George died when my mother 
was just two years old. It's often 
said that early loss of a parent 
leads to a dysfunctional adulthood, 
and I suspect that was one of the 
reasons my mother was 
overprotective towards me. This 
third picture is, I think, my mother 
as a little girl. 

Next you'll see my father, Francis 
Robert Jarvis, who was always called 
Bob. I have posted before about his 
obsession with making scrapbooks. 

My brother told me, after my mother 
died, that on one occasion my 
mother asked him to give up making 
the scrapbooks - he embarrassed her 
when my mother's cousins visited, 
because he absented himself from 
the get-together just to do "sticking" 
as he called it. This inspired the part 
in Death and Mr Pickwick where Mr 
N's wife asks him to stop compiling 
the Pickwick Concordance. 

► And here I am in various pictures, 
at different ages, sometimes with 
my older brother Michael, and with 
my parents and other family 

► Here I am, graduating at 
University, in Economics, 
went on to Oxford, to do 
work, but dropped out. 

► And then in this picture I am 
dressed as Zorro for a fancy-dress 
party. My mother looks on, and you 
will see her too as an older lady. 

The last picture was taken when I was 
working at British Aerospace. I had been 
sent on an outwards-bound team-building 
course. This certainly had an effect on 
me. I tried things like abseiling. It made 
me more adventurous, and this was a 
good preparation for writing about 
unusual leisure activities, which - as I 
have mentioned before - was an influence 
on Death and Mr Pickwick. I have placed 
myself right in the centre of the pic - I 
don't think this was deliberate, but I do 
remember one of the others on the course 
seeing this pic and commenting: "You can 
tell who's got the biggest ego here!" 

special recipe she took into the grave} and I remember many a merry 
christmas...Very best wishes Peter Stadlera 
Like Reply Message 4 hrs 

F* Death and Mr Pickwick Hi Peter - It is interesting how things exert an 
influence in a person’s life. My mother spoke of how she hated being 
leftonthepub doorstep whenshewasalittlegirl-andthatlamsure 
conditioned all her attitudes towards drink. Even though my 
grandmother just went in for one quick drink, once a week. My mother 
was stuck with prejudices about pubs - she believed that they were 
horrible, dirty places, with sawdust on the floor, which people would 
spit upon. Only towards the end of her life, when I took her to a few 
pubs, did she realise that pubs were not as she had imagined them. 
All the best Stephen 
Like Reply 1 - 4 hrs 


Bing Crosby & Connie 
Boswell - 'An Apple for... 


July 8 

► Jamie Johnston is on a Premier Inn 
tour through England, and he tells 
me: " We called into Calke Abbey in 
Derbyshire. The house has been 
preserved as left by the family. One 
room is a caricature room. I don't 
know if there are any Seymours in 
the room but the guide in the room 
did seem to know about Death and 
Mr Pickwick. Anyway, enjoy the 
photo. There is a lot more to see in 
the room so I'm sure you would 
enjoy." Many thanks for this pic, 
Jamie. I would love to visit this 
room. Some of the caricatures do 
look they might be by Gillray or 

July 8 

► The great Peter Stadlera now brings his series 
on holy relics to a conclusion with this 
wonderful post. The detail about the scraping 
of metal nails is especially fascinating - 1 nad 
never heard of this practice before. 

► “In Death and Mr Pickwick we hear about 
many fascinating relics. S. Croce in 
Gerusalemme in Rome itself has a whole 
chapel devoted to relics of Christ's passion. It 
possesses not one but two thorns from the 
Crown of Thoms. It has splinters from the 
True Cross, a piece of the Good Thiefs cross, 
and one of the three iron spikes with which 
Christ was nailed to the cross. Well, it is said 
to be fairly intact, despite the medieval 
habit of scraping filings from the Holy Nails 
and incorporating them in minor relics in 
order, plainly spoken, to soup them up, like 
adding pepper to a cutlet. 

“It has the column at which Christ was 
scourged, the crib in which his mother 
laid him in the stable at Bethlehem, the 
mummified index finger of Doubting 
Thomas (we already had a post about 
that) and the Titulus Crucis (we also had a 
post about that). This cult of relics gave 
rise to much swindling and fakery. 

S. Croce itself has a very interesting 
history. At one time the site of the temple 
of El Gabal, or Sol Invictus, the god of 
Emperor Elagabalus, the Basilica was later 
built around a room in St. Empress 
Helena's imperial palace, the Palazzo 
Sessoriano, which she converted into a 
chapel circa AD 320. Some decades later, 
the chapel was converted into a basilica, 
called the Heleniana or Sessoriana. 

► “After falling into neglect, the Pope 
Lucius II (1144-5) restored the 
Basilica. It assumed a Romanesque 
appearance, with a nave, two aisles, 
belfry, and porch. The Basilica was 
also modified in the 16th century, 
but it assumed its current Baroque 
appearance under Pope Benedict XIV 
(1740-58), who had been its titular 
prior to his elevation to the Papacy. 
New streets were also opened to 
connect the Basilica to two other 
Roman major basilicas, namely, San 
Giovanni in Lateranoand Santa Maria 
Maggiore. This place is a clear 
recommendation when you're in 
Rome! Thus ends my series on 

July 9 

► I chose to include The Show Must 
Go On in the novel because certain 
lines resonated strongly with parts 
of Death and Mr Pickwick, notably 
the section involving J S Grimaldi. 
The song, mainly written by Brian 
May, is about Mercury's struggle to 
keep performing, even though he 
could barely walk when The Show 
Must Go On was recorded. He died 
six weeks after the song was 

May has spoken about his concerns 
as to whether Mercury was 
physically capable of singing The 
Show Must Go On. He said to 
Mercury: "Fred, I don't know if this 
is going to be possible to sing." But 
Mercury replied: "I'll fucking do it, 
darling." Mercury then downed a 
vodka — and, as May has said, 
Mercury "went in and killed it, 
completely lacerated that vocal." 

July 9 

It is always great to see photos of 
Sir Pelzi, the official Death and Mr 
Pickwick cat, and here is the 

Peter Stadlera: “Be my guest 
tonight! Sir Pelzi waiting for the 
guests to come sitting at the head 
of the table in his role as master of 

July 9 

I think I first became aware of the mythological 
Sirens via the Roxy Music song Editions of You ■ 
and indeed, when I sang in a band as a teenager, 
we covered that song. Bryan Ferry's lyrics go: 

"And as I was drifting past the Lorelei 
I heard those sinky sirens wail, whoo 
So look out sailor when you hear them croon 
You'll never been the same again, oh no 
Their crazy music drives you insane, this way" 
And later, Roxy Music did the album Siren, 
featuring Jerry Hall on the cover. 

So in Death and Mr Pickwick, I have Edward 
Holmes being warned by Mrs Novello, about his 
forthcoming trip to Germany: "Edward, you 
would board the wrong coach, and fall prey to 
Sirens." I think I found that line in a diary 
written by Mrs Novello, and given my teenage 
interest in Roxy Music, I just nad to include it. 
Anyway, here is a superb post by Peter Stadlera 
on the subject of Sirens. 

“In Death and Mr Pickwickwe read 
about Sirens. Sirens were three 
(some sources say five) monstrous 
sea-nymphs who lured sailors to their 
death with a bewitching song. They 
were formerly handmaidens of the 
goddess Persephone and when she 
was secretly abducted by Hades, 
Demeter gave them the bodies of 
birds to assist in the search. 
According to some versions, they 
were playmates of a young 
Persephone and were changed into 
the monsters of lore by Demeter for 
failing to intervene when Persephone 
was abducted (Ovid V, 551 ) 

► “They eventually gave up the search and 
settled on the flowery island of Anthemoessa. 
The Sirens were encountered by the 
Argonauts who passed by unharmed with the 
help of the poet Orpheus who drowned out 
their music with song. Odysseus later sailed 
by, bound tightly to the mast, while his men 
blocked their ears with wax. The Sirens were 
so distressed to see a man hear their song 
and still escape that they threw themselves 
into the sea and drowned. The Sirens were 
depicted as birds with either the heads or 
entire upper bodies of women. In mosaic art 
they were depicted with just bird legs. I 
found three interesting paintings: Ulysses and 
the Sirens by J.W. Waterhouse (1891), 

Ulysses and the Sirens by Herbert James 
Draper (1909) and Ulysses and the Sirens by 
Marie- Francois Firmin-Girard (1868). I think 
those evil women are gone for good! 

July 10 

... and when Elaine and I were in 
Champagne Charlie's the other day 
there happened to be a 
reproduction of the painting beside 
our table. Not many people know, 
however, that Whistler was also a 
Pickwickian artist. 

As you can see, he did a fine 
painting of the Cobbler in the Fleet 
Prison - this is the character in 
The Pickwick Papers who was 
inspired by the case of Thomas 
Clarke (who of course features in 
Death and Mr Pickwick). 

Whistler also did some Pickwickian 
sketches - you'll see here his take 
on Sam and Mary folding a carpet. 

His sketch The Valentine, though not 
obviously Pickwickian, is apparently 
another view of Mary, as she reads 
Sam's valentine. Whistler also did a 
picture of Tupman and the Fat Boy, 
though that doesn't seem to be 
available online. 

Sam Wellerwas indeed one of 
Whistler's heroes, and according to a 
biography of the artist, Whistler 
would frequently use Sam's phrase 
"Anything for a quiet life." According 
to one acquaintance, the phrase 
became Whistler's answer to 

July 10 

I sent Sir Pelzi, the official Death and Mr 
Pickwick cat, the new British First Day 
Cover, featuring Pink Floyd stamps. He has 
just done this wonderful post in response, 
which even includes Pink Floyd wordplay! 
('Edda' here is Peter Stadlera's wife.) 

“Hello everybody, I'm Sir Pelzi and today I 
received the Royal Mail First Day Cover of 
my favourite band Pink Floyd (with a little 
help from my friend Stephen!). Now I set 
the controls for the heart of the sun, here 
in my private Arnold Lane, I see Edda play, 
am seldom lost for words and having High 
Hopes for Stephen getting awarded with 
the highest literary prizes. May he ever 
write in an Endless River of Creativity!” 

John Thomas McElheny recently said to 
me: "It is my sincere hope that no offense 
will be taken as I confess to keeping a 
copy of Death and Mr Pickwick, along 
with my best reading glasses, on a utility 
tray in my bathroom. Reading random 

P assages in partial light has become a pre- 
ath ritual. I have discovered that a 
favorite passage comes up more than 
random should allow. I refer to the Devil's 
Advocate line in which a respite from hell 
is welcomed. Thanks. My cleanliness is 
next to Godliness routine now involves 
Satan. I have named my tub Styx and am 
increasing the number of candles nightly. 

I asked John if he could take a picture of 
his bathroom, and here it is! 

July 10 

Exeter 'Change, and the general 
area of the Strand in London, plays 
an important role in Death and Mr 
Pickwick, notably in the episode 
featuring Chunee the elephant, 
and David Whittaker has just sent 
me a picture, View from the 
Exeter 'Change eastwards with St 
Mary Le Strand and St Clement 
Danes in the background" by Caleb 
Robert Stanley. 

July 10 

Nelson gets several mentions in 
Death and Mr Pickwick - the first 
being in the scene with Rowlandson 
at the meeting of The Brilliants club, 
when a drunken member proposes a 
toast to the glory of Nelson. In this 
post, Peter Stadlera provides some 
fine background material about 
Nelson's navy, and illustrates it with a 
drawing by Rowlandson himself. 

“Stephen first became aware of 
Pickwick when it was chosen as the 
book to take to a desert island on the 
BBC radio show Desert Island Discs. 

In Portsmouth we had delicious food 
and drink in the Spice Island Inn. 

“The name of that pub is quite 
interesting. Portsmouth Point, or 
‘Spice Island’, is part of Old 
Portsmouth. The name Spice Island 
comes from the area's seedy 
reputation: it was here men were 
press-ganged into Nelson's navy, 
and its hostelries were known for 
being where prostitutes plied their 
trade. It was known as the ‘Spice 
of Life’ (we also use the term 
nowadays with ‘spice up your 

“The area forms the eastern side of the 
narrow entrance to Portsmouth Harbour, 
facing Gosport on the western side. Now 
the area is part of the historic city of 
Portsmouth containing the majority of the 
remaining early defences of the city and 
Camber Dock. The Spur Redoubt is the 
point where Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson 
left Portsmouth to join Victory for the 
Battle Of Trafalgar in 1 805. Nelson would 
have left the George Hotel in the High 
Street by the back door to avoid the 
crowds that had gathered to bid him 
farewell and headed along Pembroke Road 
before cutting across Governors Green in 
front of the Garrison Church and going 
through the tunnel in the ramparts to join 

“The Spice Island Inn actually incorporates three 
famous former inns - The Coal Exchange which was 
on the Broad street site from 1718 and was later 
named the Jolly Sailor. Coal was unloaded here from 
the docks and smugglers haggled over prices. 
Adjacent was the Union Tavern, later called the 
Union Jack and later still named the Lone Yachtsman 
in tribute to Sir Alec Rose. The Third was the East 
and West.” 


July 1 1 

Now, this painting is a VERY 
unusual piece of Pickwickiana. Let 
me explain. 

In the heyday of The Pickwick 
Papers, several towns came into 
existence that were called 
Pickwick, and indeed I mention one 
in Death and Mr Pickwick - 
Pickwick in Minnesota. Well, 
another of these towns, Pickwick in 
Texas, is actually now a submerged 
ghost town - its land was turned 
into a reservoir, Possum Kingdom 
Lake, in 1939. 

The painting is by an artist called 
Fred Darge (1900-1978) and is 
called In the Shade (Possum 
Kingdom Lake.) So it is a picture of 
an invisible town called Pickwick! 

Darge, who was born in Germany, 
was the foremost chronicler of 
ranch life in Texas, and I have 
posted here his self-portrait, and a 
few examples of his work. 

► The interesting thing is that there WAS a ranch at 
Pickwick - and even today, the posts that are the 
remains of a corral are visible - and it is tempting to 
think that, as Darge painted, he imagined the ranch 
in his mind's eye. 

July 12 

► Death and Mr Pickwick took twelve 
years to write, and when I was about 
seven years into the job, I received a 
call from the Dickens Museum - they 
suggested I might talk to a writer 
called Simon Goddard, who had 
apparently become very interested in 
Seymour. It turned out that Simon 
was a rock journalist - he has written 
books on Morrissey, David Bowie and 
the Rolling Stones - but Simon was 
thinking of moving away from music, 
and writing about Dickens. 
Specifically, he was thinking of doing 
something similar to Death and Mr 
Pickwick, and writing a novel about 
the Seymour affair! 

When Simon realised how far advanced I 
was with Death and Mr Pickwick he 
decided to drop the project, but he said 
to me in an email: "I discovered Seymour 
after reading and loving The Pickwick 
Papers, probably still my favourite 
Dickens book. When I read the background 
of the book I was immediately struck by 
the story of Seymour, the Dying Clown, 
the argument and then the suicide. As I 
read up on Dickens - biogs by Ackroyd, 
Pearson, Forster - I began to think it a bit 
strange/suspicious even that this poor 
man who’d more or less handed Dickens 
his big break on a plate then kills himself 
at the outset of what would have been his 
greatest success. Did Dickens have blood 
on his hands, how did that affect his 
conscience etc? So I immediately thought 
there’s a story in this!”. 



► That line "There's a story in this!" is very much 
akin to my own feelings, when I first heard about 
Seymour. Anyway, Simon and I met for a drink, 
and it was one of the most fascinating 
encounters I have ever had • to appreciate how 
fascinating, you have to realise the sheer 
'loneliness' of writing Death and Mr 

Pickwick . ...during seven years, I had been driven 
simply by my own conviction that Seymour's 
stoiV had to be told, and now suddenly, I didn't 
feel quite so alone, and some of my own 
thoughts about Seymour were echoed by things 
that Simon said. 

► At that stage, Simon was uncertain how to 
approach the subject, but he considered turning 
the tale of Seymour into a Victorian murder 
mystery - and indeed, he sent me a rough 
dummy cover he had made, The Pickwick 
Murder, and I hope he won't mind my posting it 
in this email. It's a fascinating and unique piece 
of Pickwickiana, which shouldn't be forgotten. 

*- But going back to Morrissey. . . he 
himself has an interest in Dickens, 
as you can see from the page I 
have posted from Simon's fine book 
The Mozipedia, The Encyclopedia 
of Morrissey and The Smiths. There 
is even a mention of Seymour in 
Simon's entry about Dickens. 

And heaven knows, I'm 

► And to end on a Morrissey note: 
the BBC series Horrible Histories 
did a song about Dickens's life in 
the style of Morrissey, and this 
song, with its amusing lyrics, can 
be listened to on youtube here: 


Horrible Histories: Charles Dickens Lyrics 

July 12 

► Here is Peter Stadlera's latest post, 
in which he continues the theme of 
Nelson. I said yesterday that 
Nelson got his first mention in The 
Brilliants Club scene of my novel, 
but really he forms part of the 
entire cultural background to 
Death and Mr Pickwick - for 
instance, at the violent election 
scenes, a man starts singing The 
Death of Nelson. 

“Today we have a look at Nelson’s 
Portsmouth Prayer. Though the 
Trafalgar Prayer is the most 
famous that Nelson wrote, it is not 
the only one. Some weeks before, 
on the day he left Portsmouth in 
the Victory, he had composed 
another, expressing his thoughts at 
parting from Emma Hamilton and 
their daughter. It deserves to be 
better known, since it is a perfect 
expression of the feelings of those 
who put their lives in danger for 
the benefit of others. 

“For better reading here is the text: 

May the great God whom I adore 
enable me to fulfil the expectations 
of my Country. 

And if it is his good pleasure that I 
should return, 

my thanks will never cease being 

to the throne of His mercy. 

If it is His good providence 
to cut short my days upon earth, 

I bow with the greatest submission, 
relying that he will protect 
those so dear to me that I may leave 

His will be done, 

Amen, amen, amen. 

“The statue shows Lord Nelson in the 
undress uniform he wore when leaving 
Portsmouth for Trafalgar. The coat which 
he was wearing when mortally wounded 
has been carefully copied. He was short 
and thin but this cannot be shown in a 
single statue for if made thin, he appears 
tall. The uniform is correct to the smallest 
detail. The sword is a copy of the one he 
always wore. Portsmouth was the last 
English town he ever saw. The statue was 
originally located at Pembroke Gardens in 
Southsea. It was moved to this more 
prominent and historic location in October 
2005 to mark the bicentenary of the 
Battle of Trafalgar. 

► “Behind the Nelson statue is the 
Royal Garrison Church, which 
during Nelson’s time would have 
been fully roofed. The damage 
came in WWII. 

July 12 

► David Whittaker has just posted this pic of an old 
hotel in Texas which was called Pickwick. As David 
says, there are Pickwickian connections everywhere, 
proving just how massive the Pickwick phenomenon 
was. And of course David's post follows nicely upon 
my post of yesterday, about the submerged Pickwick 
ghost town in Texas. 

July 13 

The W. W. Morgan Clothing Co. 

As more and more material becomes 
digitised, long-forgotten aspects of 
the Pickwick phenomenon are likely 
to come to light. And here is one. In 
the late nineteenth to early 
twentieth centuries, there was a 
method of American tailoring called 
The Pickwick System - or, as one of 
these advertisements puts it: "Right 
shaped clothing for odd shaped men". 
I smiled at the classification of suits 
in the first ad: "Pickwick suits range 
in size from 36 to 52 and are cut four 
ways: extra size, extra stout, long 
stout and short stout.” 

July 14 

Recently, I posted about the founder member 
of the Daffy Club, Frosty-Faced Fogo, who 
was known as the Poet Laureate of the Ring. 
Bob Gregson, a boxer mentioned in Death 
and Mr Pickwick, was also known for his 
poetry. Poetry was indeed a crucial part of 
the world that Pierce Egan occupied, and 
should be represented on this page. But also, 
it has to be acknowledged that, nowadays, 
poetry is the passion of a tiny minority - and 
the change in public taste for verse is itself 
the result of the Pickwick phenomenon. As 
Charles Whitehead remarks in Death and Mr 
Pickwick: "Once, everybody was wild for 
poetry. . .Then along came Pickwick." After 
Pickwick, prose was the thing - a traditional 
liking for verse, going back to the days of 
Beowulf, was steamrollered by Pickwick, and 
has never recovered. 

This means that one has to be VERY sparing 
when quoting poetry on facebook. To quote 
several full poems would in all likelihood 
bore the pants off most people. So I shall 
auote just a few brief lines m this post, from 
tnree poems, but I will post pics of the full 
poems for those who wish to read them. 

First, here's a poem by the playwright 
William Leman Rede. My friena Alex Joanides 
recently sent me a poem by Rede, a tribute 
to Egan in verse, and Alex remarked that 
Rede was "one of the young guns that 
worshipped Pierce Egan." Here, Rede puns on 
the idea of a port (for ships) and port (the 

"May fortune bring daily some port into sight 
In bliss may you swing in your hammock at 
night. " 

But Rede was also a Pickwick 
plagiarist. Yesterday, strangely 
enough, David Whittaker posted a 
picture of Rede's Pickwickian 
plagiariasm , and I have reposted 
that, as well as an earlier picture 
of the same drama. 

Alex also sent me some other examples of 
boxing poetry of the Egan era. You will 
recall that in Death and Mr Pickwick, the 
boxer Jack Scroggins appears in the Castle 
Tavern scene, ana he sings a song - and 
Alex sent me a poem called Jack 
Scroggins' Appeal to the Fancy. (In the 
following lines, 'milling' is slang for 
fighting, and 'the scratch' was the line 
scratched on the ground in a boxing ring.) 

"0 the days are gone by when the hint of 
a match 

Brought me smiling and vig'rous and 

prompt to the scratch 

When in eating or milling for ever 


My stomach was ready for grub or for 
fighting. " 

► And - as a finale, let me quote a few 
lines which refer to another boxer in 
Death and Mr Pickwick, Tom Belcher. 
So here is Tom Belcher's Farewell to 
the Castle and to the Fancy. ('Heavy' 
here refers to a type of beer. ) 

► "Farewell my old friends of the 
parlour and bar 

Who swallowed my heavy or whiff'd 
a cigar 

Your kindness unceasing I oft shall 

Farewell to the Daffy Club, dearer 
than all!" 

July 14 

Here, Peter Stadlera and his wife Edda pay their 
respects to Charles Dickens's statue in 
Portsmouth. Perhaps I should visit the statue one 
day myself, and place a copy of Death and Mr 
Pickwick in Dickens's lap! As Peter remarks, the 
statue was delayed because some Dickensians 
pointed out that Dickens's will expressed a 
desire not to be memorialised. I have to say that 
I have some sympathy with these Dickensians - 
and, as I recall, there was some dodgy rhetoric 
employed by other Dickensians to try to evade 
the will. It was stated, for instance, that Dickens 
really wanted to avoid over-the-top monumental 
Victorian structures. But what this ignores is that 
Dickens was at one point on a committee to 
honour Shakespeare - and he wanted no statue 
at all for Shakespeare as well. So It wasn't a case 
of his expressing a desire to avoid a particular 
type of memorial. Anyway, the statue is there, 
and I am very glad that Peter and Edda have 

► “On our Death and Mr Pickwick tour we 
found proof that Charles Dickens has 
returned to Portsmouth, the city of his birth 
and we even met up with him. An 
appropriately larger than life statue has been 
in Guildhall Square since 201 4. The statue, 
shows the author seated with a book in hand 
and another stack of books by his side. The 
sculptor, Martin Jennings, said of the statue's 
pose: ‘I wanted to suggest he is about to 

S to his feet and begin one of the 
ngs of Oliver Twist that had people 
weeping and fainting in the aisles.’ Although 
there are Dickens statues overseas, including 
in Philadelphia and Sydney, this is the first 
full-sized statue of the writer in Britain. The 
startling delay was partly because after 
Dickens death, in 1870 at the age of 58 - 
exhaustion a factor, from his relentless work 
rate - his will was found to state that he 
wanted ‘no monument, memorial or 

“The Guildhall Square is part of London Road 
where Dickens was born, in February 1812, in 
a pretty but modest terraced house - now a 
museum - while his father, John, was working 
at the navy pay office in the dockyard. The 
author returned to Portsmouth several times. 
He brought one of his sons to the naval 
training school, and also gave one of his 
famous readings in Portsmouth. By 
coincidence, both his first love, Maria 
Beadnell (he met her again years later and 
was appalled to find her ‘grown dull and 
fat’), and his last mistress, Ellen Ternan, are 
buried in the city. The London Road is also 
the route followed by Nicholas Nickleby and 
Smike, when they run away to Portsmouth 
with the idea of becoming sailors - a fate 
from which they are saved by becoming the 
improbable stars of the ramshackle 
Crummies touring theatre company.” 

July 14 

► John Thomas McElheny has just 
posted this wonderful image on the 
DaMP site, accompanied by the 
word 'Thanks’. That means SO much 
to me. Thank YOU, John Thomas! 

July 14 

Some time ago, Peter Stadlera 
posted about the novel The Man of 
Feeling. But he has now posted 
two Rowlandson cartoons with that 

“In the first caricature named The 
Man of Feeling, by Thomas 
Rowlandson you see a plump 
Parson standing regarding a young 
woman as he places his hand on 
her breast. The young woman looks 
on demurely, with a basket over 
her left arm. 

July 15 

► Just woken up to the appalling 
news from Nice. Disgusting. This is 
not a day for a post of my normal 
kind. Those poor people. 

July 16 

I was wondering how to illustrate 
this post. . .and I have done so via a 
picture drawn by one of the 
characters in Death and Mr 
Pickwick, William Heath, showing 
himself as a spider. You'll see why 
in a moment. 

The idea behind this post is that 
sometimes, an apparently 
insignificant remark in a text may 
mean a lot more to the writer than 
a reader could possibly realise, and 
may have resulted from some real- 
world observation or event, 




For instance, I was recently talking to 
Peter Stadlera about a peculiarity of my 
father - that whenever fight scenes 
happened in crime shows on TV, his limbs 
would make involuntary movements as he 
sat and watched. His hands would twitch, 
and make little punches, and his legs 
would move too. The effect was at its 
most pronounced if he watched Saturday 
afternoon wrestling: it was as though he 
was taking part in the fight himself. So 
when I wrote the piece on p.92 of Death 
and Mr Pickwick - where the old Grimaldi 
is watching his son perform, and there are 
"echoes of movement in the old clown's 
limbs" - I was thinking of my Dad's 
movements as he watched fight scenes. 

Similarly on p.22, I refer to the stair- 
climbing technique of the fat Mr Mitchell, 
who "swung one arm for extra momentum" 
- this was inspired by Elaine telling me 
about a fat women she had seen climbing 
stairs. While on p.117, Wonk's description 
of Seymour in an elated mood - "He had 
his legs curled up like a happy girl, sitting 
on the edge of that table all smiles, and 
he seemed so large he filled the room. He 
told jokes, his voice was a song, he 
whistled, he chattered without end, and 
his arms would go everywhere over me" - 
was inspired partly by a bi-polar woman 
Elaine met, and partly by my chat with 
the son of the bi-polar cartoonist Ged 

But perhaps the most extraordinary case of a 
person influencing a little detail in the text 
occurs on p. 73, where Tasso talks of the 
spirit he had seen - and he says to his friend 
Manso that the spirit was "as real and solid to 
me as you are." that 'real and solid' echoes 
something said to me by a former colleague, 
who suffered a temporary mental breakdown 
- which he was later to describe, when he 
was recovered, as a "fugue", a psychological 
term meaning a loss of awareness of one's 
identity. For about a week, this colleague 
suffered from weird delusions: he believed 
for instance that his water-boiler was 
sabotaged by the Government. But the 
strongest and strangest delusion he had was 
that,!, Stephen Jarvis, was at the centre of a 
vast conspiracy - he believed that I was 
responsible for everything that had ever gone 
wrong in his life. It was as though I was the 
spider in the middle of a web of intrigue. 

So powerful was this delusion, that he even 
phoned up the Personnel Department and 
complained - and soon afterwards, I was 
taken offsite by the Personnel Officer, to my 
colleague's home, where he sat on the floor, 
unwashed, unshaven, and unfed, because he 
had totally neglected himself during the 
week of the fugue. I had to convince him 
that what he was saying wasn't true, which 
was difficult • my denials just made him 
more convinced of the conspiracy. But when 
he recovered, I went for a drink with him, 
and he said that although he realised 
afterwards that he had been talking 
nonsense, at the time of the fugue the 
allegations were "as real and solid as 
THIS*... and he tapped the table in front of 
him. Real and solid... 

So the moral is: be aware that, when you are 
with a writer, what you say and do may one 
day be recycled ana re-used in a book! 

July 16 

► Gypsy, the official Death and Mr 
Pickwick cockatiel, is twenty-one 
years old!!!! Yay! ! ! ! Happy 

July 16 

Peter Stadlera has been reading Dickens's 
Bleak House. Although I usually avoid 
Dickens's non-Pickwick work on this page, 
there is a part at the end of Peter's review 
which is relevant to Death and Mr 

"Bleak House was Dickens’s ninth novel 
and, with its double narrative in which 
chapters are either told from the 
perspective of one of the characters, 
Esther Summerson, or else presented from 
the perspective of an omniscient narrator, 
it is arguably his most technically 
accomplished work. (It has some brilliant 
but I also have to say some very tedious 
passages in it. Reading that massive novel 
is quite a task). 

“It is also the novel in which his use of 
Gothic imagery to heighten his attacks 
upon society’s failings is at its most 
intense (since I saw the fantastic Gothic 
exhibition in the Tate gallery I place the 
focus on gothic elements in a novel if 
there are any, besides I like horror 
novels). The opening paragraphs of Bleak 
House describe London with surreal, 
nightmarish intensity. The streets are 
awash with mud - so much so that ‘it 
would not be wonderful to meet a 
Mesalosaurus, forty feet long or so. 
waddling like an elephantine lizard up 
Holborn Hill’; soot from the chimney-pots 
falls as a black rain; and everything from 
the London docks to the Essex marshes, 
the Kentish heights and the eyes and 
throats of Greenwich pensioners is 
cloaked in fog. 

“However, this obscuring of the landscape in and around 
London is as nothing in comparison with the ‘groping and 
floundering condition’ of the High Court of Chancery, 
where the seemingly interminable case of Jarndyce and 
Jarndyce drags slowly on. The literal fog outside the 
court mirrors the fog of stagnation generated by the 
processes of the law within. Dickens also uses a more 
obvious and dramatic form of gothic imagery in Bleak 
House to heighten the emotional drama of his story. Here 
gothic is used primarily for effect, rather than address 
the real horrors that plague society. The lawyer, 
Tulkinghorn, who seeks to blackmail Lady Dedlock is 
described as resembling ‘a larger species of rook’. There 
is also something Satanic about Tulkinghorn. He is always 
dressed in black and his clothes ‘never shine’, being 
instead ‘irresponsive to any glancing light’, which recalls 
John Milton’s Satan from Paradise Lost. Similarly 
Tulkinghorn’s chambers resemble hell, being ‘an oven 
made by the hot pavements and hot buildings’ . Richard 
Carstone, meanwhile, one of the victims of Chancery's 
grotesque slowness in resolving the case of Jarndyce and 
Jarndyce, becomes ‘bloodless and gaunt’, under the gaze 
of the lawyer Vholes who, in Esther’s mind, has 
'something of the vampire in him’ . 

“Dickens’s novels are full of grotesque 
characters and Bleak House, with its 
withered moneylender Grandfather 
Smallweed, the gin-soaked rag and bottle 
merchant Krook, the ‘vinegary’ Mrs 
Snagsby and the vampiric lawyer Vholes, 
is no exception. In Dickens, however, it is 
important to remember that he frequently 
uses grotesque gothic characters to 
highlight how society weighs down upon 
people as they attempt to make a living in 
a harsh and unfair world. The grotesque 
exterior of a character such as 
Grandfather Smallweed mirrors his inner 
spiritual decay but this is caused as much 
by the flaws of society as by any moral 
lapsing on the part of Grandfather 
Smallweed - described as ‘monkeyish’ and 
‘a kind of fossil imp’. 

“I had a special interest in the mysterious 
law copywriter Nemo who died by suicide 
or by an accidental overdose of opium (I 
had the impression he's a self-destructing 
opium addict). This might be a reference 
by Dickens to Robert Seymour. When 
Seymour committed suicide, 21 year-old 
Hablot Knight Brown used the pseudonym 
N.E.M.O. in the first two plates for The 
Pickwick Papers (also Ulysses used this 
name in the Cyclops episode of The 
Odyssey) and later changed that to Phiz (a 
depicter of physiognomies) matching 
Dickens Boz. Maybe Browne intended an 
ironical self-deprecation to mollify 
Dickens who might have regarded an 
illustrator (Seymour) as a mere nobody in 
the creative process , believing that the 
drawings should be subservient to the 

July 17 

Here is a short video showing a 
couple of fascinating Pickwickian 
artefacts which I hope one day I shall 
see: firstly, the grave of Moses 
Pickwick and secondly the statue of 
the White Hart, once owned by Moses 
- and the statue of course makes an 
important appearance towards the 
end of Death and Mr Pickwick: 

https : / /vi meo . com / 1 739097 1 4 

If any DaMP fan happens to be near 
the grave or the statue, do please 
send me a pic of one or both beside 
the book. 

► Here is a marvellous post by Peter 
Stadlera on Sir Charles Wetnerell, the 
Bristol Riots, and the Reform Bill of 1832. 

I think it is important to realise that the 
Reform Bill provides so much of the 
social/political context for Death and Mr 
Pickwick. Indeed, yesterday I had my 
photo taken outside the house of Lord 
Russell - Russell doesn't actually appear in 
Death and Mr Pickwick, but as ne was the 
key figure behind the Reform Bill, and I 
think he deserves to be mentioned on the 
Death and Mr Pickwick page. Peter's post 
also suggests new locations for Death and 
Mr Pickwick travellers: visiting 'Rotten 
Boroughs', the parliamentary boroughs 
which naa tiny electorates, and which 
were swept away by Reform, for instance 
'Old Sarum' in Wiltshire which had three 
houses and seven voters. 

“In Death and Mr Pickwick we meet Sir 
Charles Wetherell and see the fruits of Sir 
Charles’ wisdom at Bristol. Due to the events 
in Nice and Turkey I wanted to look back at 
the Bristol riots. I can’t imagine anyone was 
surprised that Sir Charles Wetherell 
eventually started a riot. Sir Charles was 
‘...half mad, eccentric, ingenious...a coarse, 
vulgar mind, delighting in ribaldry and abuse 
...’ He was also rich ana a bigot. He was fired 
from his cabinet post in the Duke of 
Wellington’s government because he made a 
vicious anti-Catholic speech when the 
government was trying to de-criminalize 
Catholicism. And when the government 
moved to reform the stifling limitations on 
suffrage in Britain, Sir Charles opposed that, 
too. A colleague noted, ‘ one spoke more 
than Sir Charles Wetherell; often to no good 

“Sir Robert Peel watched his performance in the House of 
Commons and was not impressed. ‘This WethereU 
unbuttoned his braces (suspenders) when he began to 
speak, and put his hands into the waistband of nis 
breecnes...Horace Twiss said he was very mad, and had 
but one brief lucid interval, which was between his 
breeches and his waistcoat. ’ Sir Charles represented the 
tiny market town of Boroughbridge, 1 3 miles northwest of 
York. It was the very epitome of ’a rotten borough' . The 
election districts of Parliament had not been redrawn in 
two hundred years, and fishing villages that had been 
washed out to sea, and hamlets long abandoned still sent 
representatives to London. Meanwhile, newly 
industrialized population centers were underrepresented, 
like Bristol, where only 6, 000 out of the 104, 000 citizens 
could vote in 1831 . Typical of the problem, there were 
only 947 people in Boroughbridge and only 65 of the 1 54 
households were recognized as "'entitlements’, meaning 
ownership or occupancy brought with it the right to vote. 
Yet this village with just 65 legal voters still qualified for 
two representatives in Parliament, Sir Matthias Attwood, 
and Sir Charles Wetherell. 

“The public was desperate for 
reform, and despite (or because) 
of Sir Charles’s opposition the 
Reform Bill carried the House of 
Commons by 345 to 239 votes. But 
Sir Charles was also a member of 
the cloistered red-robed House of 
Lords, and was able to vote against 
the bill twice. He helped to kill it 
in the Lords by 41 votes and 
became the public face of the 
opposition to reform. This led to 
riots in Manchester and 
Birmingham, and a half dozen 
other towns. 

“But things came to head on Friday, October 
29th 183T, when the Courts were set to open 
in the west coast port city of Bristol. The 
Official Recorder for those courts came 
parading into town in a carriage pulled by 
four magnificent matching grey horses. He 
was none other than Sir Charles Wetherell, 
and it is hard to see how he could have 
chosen a worse time for a display of 
ostentation and pomp. Shops ana markets 
had closed so no one would be dissuaded 
from joining the crowds gathering to 
‘welcome’ Sir Charles. Expecting trouble 
three troops of Dragoons were stationed on 
the outskirts of Bristol. Sir Charles’ carriage 
was met by 300 ‘marshals’, especially hired 
for the occasion. A crowd estimated at 2,000 
people packed the route, hissing and booing 
as Sir Charles passed. And when the carriage 
crossed the bridge over the River Bath, 
stones were thrown. 

“The procession reached the Guildhall at noon. 
There, the town clerk, Mr. Ludlow, tried to make 
a speech praising the reform movement. But the 
crowded courtroom would not be placated, and 
the hissing drove poor Mr. Ludlow into retreat. 
From atop the bench Sir Charles imperiously 
threatened to arrest anyone interfering with the 
court, and the catcalling became even louder. 
Eventually Sir Charles had to withdraw. Once he 
was gone, the crowd gave three cheers for the 
King. A carriage took Sir Charles through the 
thick crowds to the Mansion-house on Queen 
Square, where he was to spend the night. But 
once he was safely inside several of the 
‘marshals’, so called ‘Bludgeon Men’, sallied 
into the crowd to arrest individuals they deemed 
troublemakers. This increased the anger of the 
crowd, who attacked the house and drove the 
mayor and the town council up the staircase to 
the second floor. This attack was stopped by the 
timely arrival of Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas 
Brereton, with a single troop of dragoons. 

“Despite Sir Charles' demand that the troops 
open fire on the crowd, Brereton spoke to them 
instead and they dispersed willingly. At about 
three o’clock Col. Brereton returned with his 
troopers to their barracks. He might have been 
more cautious had he known that while 
transporting their prisoners to jail, the Bludgeon 
Men were waylaid and the ‘troublemakers’ were 
freed. The Mansion-house was trashed and 
burned, and its wine cellar looted. Several other 
buildings surrounding Queen Square were 
ransacked as well. Then the New jail was 
attacked, followed by the Gloucester Prison. The 
gates were rushed, the jailers beaten, and some 
200 prisoners released. The Custom’s House, the 
Excise Office, and some fifty private houses and 
warehouses were looted and burned. But it was 
a very selective riot. All the lost property 
belonged to those who had opposed the reform 
bill. And no one was killed or even seriously 
injured by the rioters. 

“The city was finally 'brought under control' 
when reinforcements arrived Monday 
afternoon and the dragoons were turned 
loose on the crowd. Several hundred were 
now killed. Total damages were estimated at 
between four and eight hundred thousand 
pounds sterling. Wetnerell denounced the 
London press for laying for the blame for the 
riot on him. He also demanded that he be 
allowed to sit as judge of the rioters. That 
request was denied. However a statue of Sir 
Charles was erected in Queen Square, to 
remind the citizens who had won the battle 
for Bristol. He died of a ‘concussion of the 
brain’ caused by a carriage accident, on 
Monday, August 1 7, 1846. He left behind no 
heirs. And in 1983 his statue was removed 
from Queen Square in Bristol, because, in the 
words of the City Council Engineer, ‘We are 
redesigning the garden for the 1 7th century 
period ancfSir Cnarles will not blend in.’” 

July 18 

On Saturday, Elaine and I were in 
London, conducting extensive 
Pickwickian research with our 
friends Chris and Ali Nevard, and 
their delightful dog Bertie. Chris is 
a professional photographer, and 
indeed he took the publicity photos 
of me that were used by the 
publishers of Death and Mr 

And here is an announcement: Bertie is obviously a 
very literary animal.. .and therefore we think it is 
only right that he should become the official Death 
and Mr Pickwick dog!!! (Of course in making this 
appointment we do not forget Lady Jenny, the 
official Death and Mr Pickwick poodle, who sadly 
died in 2015.) 


Our research was conducted close 
to Victoria Station. . .We started at 
the Cask and Glass, which doesn't 
have a Pickwickian connection as 
such, except that its very name 
unashamedly celebrates the 
Pickwickian philosophy of life... But 
let's take a look at the other points 
we stopped at... This red building, 
at 1 3 Eccleston Street, was once 
the residence of the sculptor who 
appears in Death and Mr Pickwick, 
Sir Francis Chantrey. 

► ...48 Eaton Square, which was once 
the home of someone I mentioned 
yesterday: Lord John Russell, the 
architect of the Reform Bill. 

July 18 

It is really quite remarkable that Death 
and Mr Pickwick is generating so much 
interest among pets! To prove the point, 
here is Peter Stadlera's latest post. 

“Yesterday we were invited to a reception 
where we saw Sir Oscar (in light orange) 
and Lady Fredi (in her black dress). Sir 
Pelzi wasn't present but we had a nice 
dinner and I was talking about Death and 
Mr Pickwick to our hosts, which very much 
interested them. As you can see we had a 
nice barbecue and a nice selection of 
liquor. Stephen was missing though and all 
the other dear friends and followers of 
Death and Mr Pickwick...” 


July 18 

Michael Segers has just told me: 
"This morning, watching the news 
about the US's Republican National 
Convention bin Cleveland, Ohio, I 
learned that there is a Pickwick 
connection to Cleveland." And here 
it is: 


July 18 

July 18 

Peter Stadlera recently spotted 
something else named Pickwick... 

“In the pedestrian zone of 
Portsmouth I saw a Pickwick potato 
baking oven in action but no Mr 
Pickwick selling potatoes. 


“Victorian Baking Ovens Ltd claim 
to be the oldest established 
specialist manufacturer of potato 
baking ovens and bakers in the UK 
- since 1980 they have been 
manufacturing potato ovens and 
bakers for customers worldwide. 
Most of their potato baking ovens 
are built in an attractive 
traditional Victorian style to 
exacting standards that look stylish 
in any environment. 

“Furthermore they say that they 
have established themselves as the 
leaders in their field and have built 
a reputation to be proud of. 
Customers include many large high 
street names, theme parks, zoos, 
local authorities, leading 
wholesalers of catering equipment 
and individual entrepreneurs, one 
of whom has bought a hotel with 
the proceeds from his baked 
potato ovens! Well, the Pickwick 
potato was quite tasty. . . ” 

July 18 


Here is a pic showing the breed of 
Sir Pelzi, the official Death and Mr 
Pickwick cat. 

July 19 

► In 2012, the BBC television programme 
Antiques Roadshow featured a copy of 
The Pickwick Papers ... but not just any old 
copy. It was the copy once owned by 
Captain Oates, the member of Scott of 
the Antarctic's team who famously left the 
tent, and walked out into the blizzard 
saying "I may be some time". ..and never 
returned. I have posted a pic of the book's 
inscription, and also the video of the 
relevant section in the show can be seen 
/ pOOznljf (Though it may not be viewable 
outside the UK.) I have also posted a page 
from Scott's diary, which records the 
words "I may be some time." 

► And strangely enough, those words 
have significance for me, too. 

When I was working in the office at 
British Aerospace, there was a 
colleague who sometimes quoted 
Oates's "I may be some time" line, 
with a smile, when he had to leave 
his desk to go to the toilet. And 
this chap had an influence on me - 
meeting him was another little 
stepping-stone towards Death and 
Mr Pickwick. 

You see, he was interested in comic 
books. I have spoken before about 
my fascination with superhero comics 
wnen I was a kid, and that this was 
probably one of the reasons why I 
ended up writing about an illustrator, 
Robert Seymour, as an adult. I gave 
up reading comic books when I was 
about thirteen - but when I met this 
chap at British Aerospace, I had a 
conversation which revived my 
interest. In particular, he told me 
that a favourite character of mine 
when I was a child, The Flash, had 
died. This was in a series called 
Crisis on Infinite Earths, and you'll 
see here the issue in which The 
Flash's death occurred. 

Indeed, my renewed fascination 
stayed for about six months - at the 
weekends, I would go around comic 
book shops in London, and I collected 
all the issues in the Crisis on Infinite 
Earths series, and many other comic 
books. I think part of the reason I did 
this was that I hated my job, and 
collecting comics represented a 
return to the security of childhood. 
My interest in comics, though, came 
to an end again when I discovered 
something else to do at the weekend 
- namely unusual leisure pursuits, 
which led to my writing about such 
pursuits, and getting published for 
the first time. 

And going back to the 
Antarctic... people who have 
visited this page for some time 
may recall that there are a number 
of islands in that part of the world 
named after characters from The 
Pickwick Papers. For instance, 
you'll see Snodgrass Island marked 
on the map I have posted. 

July 19 

David Whittaker has found this 
image of a pub mentioned on page 
8 of Death and Mr Pickwick - it's 
The Castle and Falcon in 1827 by 
George Scharf. 


July 19 

Jamie Johnston has just sent me 
this pic of a Dickens-themed plate 
he saw in the window of an antique 
shop in Hastings. Note the images 
of Mr Pickwick and Sam Weller 

► When I was a little boy, one of the very 
first movies my parents took me to see 
was First Men in the Moon (1964) based 
upon H G Wells's novel. I absolutely loved 
the movie, but I have never thought of it 
as one of those stepping-stones to Death 
and Mr Pickwick... until now. You see, 
yesterday, I happened to come across a 
biography of Wells which suggested that 
the two main characters - the eccentric 
amateur scientist Mr Cavor, and his rather 
more practical associate, Mr Bedford, 
have much in common with Mr Pickwick 
and Sam Weller. And when I think about it 
some more, First Men in the Moon is 
about the travels of an amateur scientist, 
just like The Pickwick Papers. 

But more importantly, this movie 
was probably my first encounter 
with Victorianism; and its magic 
for me was that it mixed time 
periods. First Men in the Moon 
starts off in modern times, when a 
multi-national team of astronauts 
land on the moon, believing that 
they are the first people to set 
foot there. . .only to discover a 
faded British flag, and a note 
claiming the moon for Her Majesty 
Queen Victoria! The movie then 
goes back in time, to explain this 
extraordinary discovery. 

The juxtaposition of the nineteenth- 
and twentieth-century episodes - 
togetherwith explaining grand 
events - obviously has something in 
common with the narrative strategy 
of Death and Mr Pickwick. And I must 
admit, I had a certain frisson in 
Death and Mr Pickwick whenever I 
dropped in overtly modern material - 
whether it was the mention of the 
Alien movie series, or the reference 
to John Lennon. And Robert Seymour 
himself seems to have this mixing of 
old and modern in his psyche: he, 
after all, drew a picture of a giant 
robot in the 1830s, which has~been 
adopted as a symbol by the 
steampunk movement. 

The whole movie is available on 
youtube here: 
v=51oi0vQhsZg (The print is poor, 
though still watchable.) 

But as a quick intro to First Men in 
the Moon, you might simply watch 
John Landis give his views of the 
movie - he talks as the 1964 trailer 


July 20 

10 Amazing Facts About Cholera and The Great Stink of 

Wong Sarah has just posted this 
fascinating piece about cholera 
and The Great Stink! Love the pic 
of Queen Victoria! But also, this 
piece has inspired Peter Stadlera's 
latest post, as you will see... 

http: / / 

July 20 

And following on from Wong Sarahs 
post, here is Peter Stadlera... 

“In Death and Mr Pickwick we read 
about Seymours illustration 
Fortifying against Cholera. 

As Wong Sarah posted about 
cholera today I was looking for 
cholera illustrations by Seymour 
and found four of them. Here they 
are. Please sit back and enjoy!” 

July 20 

Here is an interesting discussion 
about the links between The 
Pickwick Papers and Marvel 




July 21 

Today, I have an update in a category of 
Pickwicklana: stamps. 

Let's begin with some unused drawings, by the artist 
Jonathan Burton, for a proposed UK Pickwick stamp 
for the 2012 bicentenary of Dickens's birth. Below is 
the design that he eventually submitted. 










► Burton’s design was rejected in 
favour of the well-known image 
Kyd, which is featured on this 
block of ten stamps. 


Jr ^ICK'EjJ'S- 

Note the Pickwickian postmark. A 
different envelope-and-postmark 
combo are shown on the next 
page, as well as another envelope, 
featuring a different stamp, for 
the centenary of Dickens’s death in 

► Also, although I have posted 
stamps from the island of Anguilla 
before, which feature Scrooge 
McDuck as Mr Pickwick, I have 
discovered that there are some 
more stamps and an envelope 
which I missed in that series. 


Stamp collectors also refer to 
"Cinderella stamps” - these are 
things which look like stamps, but 
are not actually used for postage. 
Several Pickwickian Cinderellas 
have been produced by the 
company Zazzle. 

► But also, a Cinderella stamp was 
produced in 191 2 for the centenary 
of Dickens’s birth - and its purpose 
was to benefit the Dickens family! 
The idea was that the stamps 
would be sold to form an instant 
'bookplate' for Dickens volumes, 
and the proceeds raised thereby 
would go to Dickens's descendants. 

Although the stamp is not 
Pickwickian as such, it is strongly 
reminiscent of Dickens's desire for 
a perpetual copyright to be 
established, which, as I mention in 
Death and Mr Pickwick, would have 
generated vast sums for his 
descendants. Also, you will see 
that pieces of publicity for this 
scheme do show Mr Pickwick, 
among a crowd of Dickensian 


Another Cinderella, which I was 
very surprised to see, is a sticker 
featuring Dismal Jemmy. 

► And finally, on a philatelic website, 
I found a mock-up of an envelope 
featuring the famous ‘Wellington 
Boot' design by an artist who 
appears in DaMP, William Heath, 
and I thought that deserved to be 
posted here too. 

July 21 

Here is Peter Stadlera on a boxer who is 
mentioned in Death and Mr Pickwick, Bob 
Gregson. I didn't know that Gregson ran a 
pub in Dublin. Perhaps if Frank Bouchier- 
Hayes is ever in a pub in that part of the 
city, he could raise a glass in Gregson's 

“Today Stephen was talking about the 
connection between The Pickwick Papers 
and the world of Marvel superheroes. 

Well, let's have a look at a superhero of 
the past. In Death and Mr Pickwick we 
read about Bob Gregson, a pugilist. Robert 
Gregson (1778-1824), aka ‘Lancashire 
Giant’ (fifteen stones in weight and over 
six ft tall) was a boxing champion, ferry 
captain and owner of a chophouse 
restaurant. A bust of Gregson is located in 
the Royal Academy. 

“Apart from his pugilistic 
capabilities, Gregson possessed other 
claims to attention. He was literally 
a model man. Sir Thomas Lawrence, 
principal painter to the king 1794- 
1830, selected him as a life-study for 
his graceful pencil; and he was 
chosen by the professor of anatomy 
at the Royal Academy to illustrate 
the beauties of anatomical 
proportion. This perfect man, as 
conceived by English tailors, was part 
country gentleman, part innocent 
natural Adam, and part naked Apollo 
the creator and destroyer— a 
combination with an enduring appeal 
(a kind of Burt Reynolds of old I 

“Few men were more widely known in the 
sporting circles of London, than the burly, 
bigboned, gigantic landlord of ‘Bob's 
Chophouse’ the headquarters of pugilism. 
The name of Gregson resounded from one 
end of the country to the other. Gregson 
was born July 21, 1778, atHeskin, three 
miles from Chorley, and ten from Preston, 
Lancashire, to parents who possessed a 
farm of considerable extent. He fought for 
the UK (world) championship four times. 
His major fights with Gully (as you can see 
in the illustrations) and Cribb are 
memorialized in multiple publications in 
great detail and are still rated today as 
some of the greatest pugilistic battles of 
all time. 

► “Cribb defeated Gregson in 23 
rounds in a 30 foot roped ring to 
take the title Champion of 
England, which he held for the 
next 14 years. 

“An educated man, cultured, always dressed as 
a gentleman of good manners, Gregson was a 
poet and friend to Lord Byron. 

Gregson also made quite a name for himself 
later, owning a London pub, The Castle in 
Holborn, otherwise known as Bob's Chop-House, 
(also Bob Gregson's Coffee House in Holborn, the 
Castle Tavern, and the Napier). The pub no 
longer survives, though there is a modern-day 
pub in Holborn (see left) called The Castle. 

He set up as a bookmaker and fight promoter 
and earned something of a reputation as a poet; 
a poem of his, British Lads and Black Millers, 
was published in a book, Perfect in Their Art: 
Poems on Boxing from Homer to Ali by Robert 
Hedin and Michael Waters. 

In 1816 Greyson was landlord of a pub named 
the Punch House in Moor Street, Dublin. He died 
in Liverpool in November 1824.” 

July 21 

Arts & Humanities 
Research Council 

The Arts and Humanities Research Council 
has named Death and Mr Pickwick as one 
of its Summer Reads! The Council asked 
some of its fellows and associated 
academics for their recommendations for 
books to pack in suitcases this summer, 
and Professor Andrew Prescott of the 
University of Glasgow chose DaMP as his 
novel! This is what Professor Prescott said: 
"The nineteenth-century illustrator is 
brought centre stage by Stephen Jarvis’s 
Death and Mr Pickwick which takes as its 
starting point the tragic story of the artist 
Robert Seymour who originally conceived 
The Pickwick Papers. Jarvis explores the 
tensions in the relationship between 
author and illustrator in a series of 
powerful and evocative scenes." 

July 21 

Here is Peter Stadlera's follow-up post to 
the one about Bob Gregson. His subject 
today is a man who fought Gregson, John 
Gully. But Gully - as Peter shows - was so 
mucn more than a boxer. Also, the second 
picture in this post is actually by Seymour. 
It is one of the pictures he drew for the 
New Sporting Magazine - although 
Seymour is merely referred to as "Our 
talented friend S- in the accompanying 

“In my last post I was presenting Bob 
Gregson to you, a fantastic pugilist. 
Tonight our boxing trip continues. Dealing 
with him was another major personage of 
the 19th century British sporting world: 
John Gully. Born 1783 in Wick, 
Gloucestershire, died 1863 in Durham, 
Durham, was a prizefighter, racehorse 
fancier, and even a politician. 

“In 1805, having failed as a butcher, Gully 
was in prison for his debts when he was 
visited by his pugilist friend Henry Pearce, 
‘the Game Chicken.’ As the result of an 
informal bout between them in jail, 
Gully’s debts were paid, and he was 
matched against Pearce. They met at 
Hailsham, Sussex, on October 8, 1805, 
before the Duke of Clarence (afterwards 
King William IV). Gully lost in 64 rounds, 
but his fine showing enhanced his 
reputation. When Pearce retired because 
of ill health, Gully was recognized as his 
successor as heavyweight champion. In 
1807-08 Gully twice defeated the huge 
Bob Gregson and then retired from the 
prize ring. 

“Thereafter he took to horse racing and 
executed betting commissions for important 
patrons, among them the Prince Regent 
(later King George IV). In 1827 he lost 
£40,000 in backing Mameluke (which he had 
bought for 4,000 guineas) in the St. Leger. 
Gully’s horses won the Derby and St. Leger in 
1832, the Two Thousand Guineas race in 
1844, the Derby and the Oaks in 1846, and 
the Two Thousand Guineas and the Derby in 
1 854. Because his horses were trained at 
Danebury, Hampshire, he and his betting 
associates were called the Danebury 
Confederacy. From 1 832 to 1 837 Gully was a 
member of Parliament for the pocket 
borough of Pontefract, Yorkshire. In 1862 he 
bought the Wingate estate and coal mines in 
County Durham. Gully married twice and had 
24 children, a dozen by each wife. What a 

July 22 

► As I mention in Death and Mr 
Pickwick, The Pickwick Papers 
became highly controversial in the 
USA during the Prohibition era, 
when there were calls to ban the 
book from public libraries, because 
of all the alcohol consumed by Mr 
Pickwick and his friends. So I have 
also posted an item from a 1919 
newspaper about the proposal to 
ban Pickwick. 

July 22 

David Whittaker has posted this 
picture by Rowlandson of the 
heavy-drinking Brilliants Club, who 
feature in Death and Mr Pickwick. 
Peter Stadlera commented: "You 
can almost hear them shouting and 
drinking." But, as I recall, there is 
a black-and-white version of this 
pic which is even MORE 



July 22 

In Death and Mr Pickwick, I refer to an extreme picture 
by Gillray, involving cannibalism. Peter Stadlera has 
found this picture and posted about it. At first, strangely 
enough, I thought that Peter had found a different 
picture, because in my mind's eye I have a stronger 
impression of the one I wrote about. But having checked 
the details, I realise that Peter must have found the 
correct picture. But as Peter said to me: “The longer you 
look at that picture the more details you see and the 
more affected you are." That perhaps explains the 
phenomenon of thinking I had written about a different 
picture - when I looked at Peter's post, I saw just a first 
impression, but my mind knew there were other 
gruesome details. It is a truly disturbing picture, and I 
think it says a lot about Gillray's psyche. 

“In Death and Mr Pickwick we hear of Gillray's illustration 
of Parisian aristocrats roasted and eaten. I've found the 
print originally named A Family of Sans Culottes 
refreshing after the fatigues of the day (1792) . Following 
the September Massacres of 1792 - the mob violence that 
overtook Paris and marked the start of the 'radical phase' 
of the French Revolution - Gillray composed this picture. 

“The piece confirms the widely- 
held English notion of French 
barbarity. The character at the 
head of the cannibalistic feast sits 
atop the Properite de la Nation, 
the prosperity of the nation, and 
eats an eyeball. Corpses litter the 
floor. Young sans-culottes devour 
intestines while an elderly 
grandmother roasts an infant's 
body on a spit. Gillray's picture of 
depravity conveys the message 
that the revolution is to blame for 
producing such monsters. 

t^wsss. — . jl4, juM'mmtmm* 
1 Sssjssx hHHHHIHH 

At the bottom of the piece appears the following 

"Here as you see, and as tis known, 

Frenchmen mere cannibals are grown; 

On Ato'gre Days each had his dish, 

Of soup, or Sallad, Eggs, or Fish; 

But now tis human flesh they gnaw, 
and every day is Mardi Gras. " 

Analyzed from an historical perspective, James 
Gillray is among the most popular and prolific 
print satirists of the golden age of English 
caricature. While he is much revered, he is also 
much reviled for the way he portrayed French 
Revolutionaries during a time when shock waves 
of fear and anxiety travelled to England from 
France. Like most Englishmen, Gillray believed 
that life was better in his part of the world and 
he feared that the Revolution could turn that 
world upside down. His prints, along with those 
of similarly-minded artists', heavily influenced 
his countrymens' ideas about the Revolution and 
the French people in general. 

“Sometimes blatant and other times more 
subtle, James Gillray's techniques are still being 
employed by satirists today seeking to draw 
attention to political issues and personalities. 

In 1793 he depicted the exiled revolutionary 
leader Charles Dumouriez about to eat the 
severed head of William Pitt. Gillray has 
ironically inscribed this print with the words pro 
bono publico [for the public good]. The French 
general, Charles Francois Dumouriez (his name 
was anglicised in England), is invited to dine by 
the Opposition Whigs, Charles James Fox and 
Richard Brinsley Sheridan, and Joseph Priestley, 
defender of the French Revolution. They offer 
their guest William Pitt's head, a crown and a 
mitre, three symbols of the English constitution, 
parliament, the monarchy and the Church. All 
the dishes are garnished with frogs. The use of 
eating as a means of conveying the balance of 
power is used repeatedly in the caricatures from 
this period.” 

July 23 


► Another day when I don't think it 
would be appropriate to do a 
'normal' post. People should realise 
that Peter Stadlera, who has such a 
huge role on this page, lives in 
Munich. It was very tense last 
night, when Elaine and I watched 
the tragic events unfolding, hoping 
that Peter and his wife Edda were 
safe. I am glad to say they are. 

July 24 

I shall begin with an ashtray, and end with an 
ashtray. In between, there will be an array of 
Pickwickian ‘smokiana’, of two types. 

I have posted about Pickwick matchbooks 
before, but over the last few months I have 
come across another nineteen, as you will 
see. And then there is something I was 
absolutely delighted to find, which connects 
directly to an event in Death and Mr 
Pickwick. On p. 788, at the celebration 
dinner for Pickwick's centenary in 1936, the 
speaker says: "An Australian friend of mine 
sent me The Pickwick Papers recently, and I 
mean by that a brand of cigarette papers. I 
told him that I was surprised no one had 
thought of it before." Well, you will see those 
cigarette papers here - there are three 
variations on the papers the speaker referred 
to, which were made in New Zealand, and 
also another from India. 

^ 52 ! 


qooj aooo„ 

Lincolnwood, III. 



July 24 

Death and Mr Pickwick, and The 
Pickwick Papers, are indebted to 
Don Quixote - and I am sure 
regular visitors to this page will 
recall Michael Segers' wonderful 
series of posts about Don Quixote 
earlier this year. In his latest post, 
Peter Stadlera talks about a novel 
he has just read, which is a 
modern take on the Quixote story. 



Monsignor Quixote 

“During the week I read Graham Green's 
novel Monsignor Qjjixote. Set in Spain at 
some point in the late 1960's (after the 
Second Vatican Council and the 
abolition of the Latin mass), this quasi- 
novel recounts the adventures of a 
humble priest, Father Quixote, who, in a 
characteristic confusion of fact and 
fiction, believes himself descended from 
the famous Knight of the Sorrowful 
Countenance, Don Quixote in the end (his 
superior Bishop always emphasises that 
you can't descend from a literary 
character). What propels Father Quixote 
from his parish in El Toboso is his sudden 
and unexpected promotion to the rank of 





► “Father Quixote teams up with the Communist 
ex-mayor of El Toboso, whom he dubs Sancho 
Panza, and together they set off across Spain for 
Madrid to buy the purple socks and bib that are 
the insignia of the new monsignor's rank. Their 
conveyance is an ancient, decrepit Seat 600, 
which the priest calls Rocinante (after his 
ancestor's steed) and treats as though it were a 
living creature. On their Pickwickian Tour there 
is a lot of drinking local wine and eating (horse 
steaks, sausages, cheese). A number of the 
adventures shared by the monsignor and the 
mayor are modern parallels to episodes in the 
original Don Quixote. When, for instance, the 
two men run afoul of the Guardia Civil, the 
mayor compares the state police to the 
windmills with whom the knight tilted. 

Inevitably, the escapades of the pair get Father 
Quixote in trouble with his bishop, a worldly 
prelate sympathetic to the conservative Opus 
Dei movement within the Spanish church. 

“The rejection of dogmatic authority 
- whether of the church, the party or 
the state - is the presiding theme of 
the book, a theme that in one way or 
another is embodied in nearly every 
episode of Monsignor Quixote. 

I quite liked reading this relatively 
short pastiche of Cervantes' Don 
Quixote from 1982. At the end Father 
Quixote even sees himself as Don 
Quixote talking about Membrino's 
helmet and fears that his library 
might get burnt. Greene collaborated 
on turning the novel into a TV movie, 
directed by Rodney Bennett, starring 
Sir Alec Guinness and Leo McKern and 
broadcast in 1985.” 

July 24 

► Sir Pelzi, the official Death and Mr 
Pickwick cat, is a wonderful artist, 
as you can see from these 

July 24 

Peter Stadlera's latest amazing post takes us 
to the heart of nineteenth-century 
publishing, and the phenomenon of the 
three-volume novel. 

“In Death and Mr Pickwick we read about 
three volume novels and wonder about the 
origin of this publication form. Well, 
‘anybody can write a three-volume novel,’ 
Oscar Wilde affirmed in 1890... between 1842 
and 1 894 Charles Edward Mudie's lending 
library influenced Victorian literature, 
particularly fiction, in two chief ways: first, 
by making sure that almost all novels 
appearedin three volumes, it had important 
effects on the structure, plot, style, and 
even imaginative worlds of the Victorian 
novel; ana second, by acting as a censor who 
demanded fiction suited to the middle-class 
family, it controlled the subject, scope, and 
morality of the novel for fifty years. 

Anybody can write a three-volume 
novel. It merely requires a complete 
ignorance of both life and literature. 

— O'm’i — 

“Mudie had first opened his lending 
library to make available 
nonfiction, and in fact, he always 
devoted a large part of his stock — 
usually about a third — to such 
works. But he soon realized the 
market for novels, and this 
recognition brought great literary 
power and financial reward. 

Mudies" enormous success 
depended upon a combination of 
astute tactics. 

“First of all, the famous guinea 
yearly subscription fee allowed a 
customer to borrow an unlimited 
number of volumes, one at a time. 
Second, demanding that publishers 
produce only three-decker novels 
allowed him to divide up one novel 
among three subscribers. Third, by 
advertising his list of ‘the principal 
New and Choice Books in 
circulation’, he created something 
very like a best-seller list, which 
simultaneously made a market and 
firmly established his power to 
make reputations. 

“Fourth, he ordered books in large 
quantities, often taking thousands of 
volumes and occasionally buying up 
entire printings, thus insuring his 
power with both publishers and 
public: his large stock meant that 
readers did not have to wait long for 
popular works. As one might expect, 
Mudie's had important effects upon 
the economics of publishing. The 
manner of buying books in quantity 
in effect subsidized publishers, often 
making it easier for new authors to 
enter print — as long, that is, as they 
conformed to the demands of Mudie's 
and its audience. 

“The power of his select list was such that it 
could make a new author's reputation more 
effectively than could the periodical critics. 
And since Mudie's and the smaller fry who 
imitated its methods bought up most, if not 
all, of an edition, the circulating library 
acted as a barrier between author and 
public. The three-decker novel provided the 
crucial factor in Mudie's success: by forcing 
publishers to price their novels at the 
artificially high price of 31s 6d for three 
volumes (for which the library paid only 15s), 
it effectively discouraged several generations 
of British readers from buying novels — so 
much so that publishers claimed the British 
were not a book-buying people. Thus, while 
Mob i Dick sold in America for $1.50, it cost 
the equivalent of $7.80 when it appeared as 
The whale in Great Britain. The tnree-decker 
novel, in other words, cost at least five times 
as much as a standard volume of poetry. 

“Of course, Mudie and his fellow librarians could 
only work this system — one feels inclined to 
write ‘racket’ — as long as there were no free 
public libraries and few cheap reprints. Mudie's 
could do little about public circulating libraries, 
and in fact, their gradual appearance during the 
century greatly weakened the power of Mudie's, 
but for many years it successfully demanded an 
interval of one year between the appearance of 
the triple-decker and the a cheaper edition. 
Although publishers several times tried to appeal 
directly to the public with cheaper one-volume 
first editions, these tactics always failed 
because the reading public had become 
accustomed to think of novels in such form as 
either cheap reprints of novels already out of 
fashion or as unsavory works. Mudie's did not 
lose its power until it decided itself to abandon 
the three-volume form. In 1894, on the eve of its 
demise, Wilde was not the only writer to treat 
the three-volume novel as an obsolete form.” 

July 25 

In Death and Mr Pickwick, Pierce 
Egan speaks to Robert Seymour about 
the phenomenon of boxers running 

'You see, Mr Seymour," said Egan, "to 
the average person the advantage of 
having a pugilist in charge is that he 
won't put up with any nonsense and 
if a fight breaks out among the 
customers, he'll put a stop to it. But 
the great boon is the trade a pugilist 
attracts. Who would not enjoy being 
known as the friend of a boxer - and 
even more so a CHAMPION boxer?" 




Alex Joanides recently sent me two 
lists of pubs run by pugilists: the first 
from about 1818, and the second 
from 1829. The majority of the pubs 
were in London, but there were some 
in other parts of the UK too. I doubt 
whether many survive, but even so 
their locations provide a new set of 
possible sites for DaMP fans to visit - 
and you could always go to the 
nearest modern pub, and raise a 
glass in honour of the pugilist who 
was the old pub's landlord. And do 
please send me pics if you carry this 

A list of Sporting Houses kept by Pugilists, 


But most importantly the pub which heads 
both lists, The Union Arms in Panton Street, 
London, run by Tom Cribb, DOES survive, 
though it is now renamed The Tom Cribb. It's 
a pub I have visited myself, and I can strongly 
recommend a pint there! 


July 26 

I have spoken before about the 'geometric' 
quality which The Pickwick Papers seems 
to possess: circles and straight lines 
appear throughout the book - most 
obviously with the juxtaposition of big 
round, fat men and tall, straight thin 
men. But it is interesting to see that 
Gillray did a cartoon which captured this 
idea precisely: A Sphere Projecting 
against a Plane (1792). Here the 'plane' is 
the thin Prime Minister, William Pitt, and 
the sphere is Lady Albinia Hobart, 
Countess of Buckingham. Albinia was 
notorious for throwing parties for London's 
fashionable set... and also for continuing 
to wear the latest eye-catching outfits 
even though she had piled on the pounds. 

And, as Gillray is one of the most 
admired of cartoonists, every so 
often a modern-day cartoonist will 
replicate one of Gillray's drawings, 
using contemporary figures - and A 
Sphere Projecting against a Plane 
has indeed been used in this way 
by the Independent's cartoonist 
Andy Davey. In 2001, Davey 
replaced Pitt and Albinia with the 
Conservative politicians lain 
Duncan Smith and Kenneth Clarke. 

July 26 

In the Daffy Club scene of Death 
and Mr Pickwick, various pugilists 
are mentioned, and in his latest 
post the Great Peter Stadlera tells 
us about one of them. . . 

“Following Stephen’s post today, 
we plunge into Death and Mr 
Pickwick and meet another 
fascinating pugilist, called ‘Fat 
Hudson’. Joshua Hudson (1796/7- 
1835) was known by the nickname 
of ‘The John Bull Fighter’. 

“On June 23rd 1824 the vacant 
English title was claimed by Tom 
Cannon after a 17-round victory over 
Josh Hudson and on Nov 23rd in 1824 
Cannon's title was confirmed when 
he defeated Hudson again, this time 
in the 16th round. 

Hudson died at the Flying Horse Inn 
on Milton Street in Nottingham. The 
heyday of the Flying Horse was the 
18th century, when it was on the 
stage-coach route to London. Last 
orders were called there in 1987. The 
£9 million Flying Horse Mall, bearing 
its name, opened on May 30, 1988 
with the facade being retained.” 

July 26 

David Whittaker is already re- 
reading Death and Mr Pickwick, 
which is a great compliment - 
thank you, David! he has now 
reached p.74, where you will see 
Richardsons show, and the 
attractions of Bartholomew Fair, 
including a marvellous pig... and 
David is posting pictures as his 
reading proceeds... 

Thus, David has posted this 
picture, Canonbury Tower, 

Islington and the remains of the 
Manor House, by an unknown 
artist, corresponding to p.105. 

"Before midday, Seymour and Wonk 
set out from the tower and walked 
along the New River, with its clear 
and gentle water and pleasing 

July 26 


Andrew Coats has just made this 
fascinating observation: 

“I was just reading Peter 
Bogdanovich's Orson Welles book 
when I came across Mr Pickwick. 
Ever since reading your book he 
pops up everywhere!” 

There is a part in Death and Mr Pickwick 
where Mr Inbelicate and Scripty are 
discussing mechanical exoskeletons. They 
mention the power loader suit in the 
Aliens movie, the techno-trousers in the 
animated Wallace and Gromit adventure 
The Wrong Trousers, and also some 
equipment designed by an unnamed 
Russian in the late nineteenth century to 
assist with running and jumping. The 
reason why Mr Inbelicate takes such an 
interest in this matter is that the world's 
first mechanical exoskeleton was 
envisaged by Robert Seymour. So Seymour 
stands at the beginning of the sequence 
that eventually produced Iron Man and 
similar characters. 

I have found a number of 
discussions about mechanical 
exoskeletons online and a good one 
is at: 


from which I have taken these 
images to produce a brief history 
of mechanical exoskeletons, in 
both fiction and reality, going all 
the way back to Seymours 

The Russian by the way was called 
Nicholas Yagn. You'll see here one 
of his designs from 1 890 but if you 
go here: 
-machines/ 1 890-assisted-walking- 

you will see several other designs 
that he submitted to the patent 

The interesting thing, too, is that 
the man wearing the mechanical 
legs in Seymour's picture is 
obviously a character of the Mr 
Pickwick type. If is highly 
suggestive that if Seymour had 
remained in charge of The Pickwick 
Papers the book could have gone in 
extraordinary ways, far beyond 
anything Dickens could have 


Indeed, in the opening chapter, 
there is just a hint that Seymour 
was thinking about technology, 
when Mr Pickwick talks about 
"boilers bursting" - and "boilers 
bursting" do feature in Seymours 
pictures. Seymour did another 
picture showing a power-walker, 
shown here, in which you can 
actually see a boiler bursting, and 
other technological problems. 

July 27 


I haven't come across many Pickwick 
swizzle sticks before, which is a little 
strange, given the amount of liquor 
consumed in The Pickwick Papers. 
However, this is probably to be explained 
by the fact that swizzle sticks are 
predominantly from the age of plastic 
manufacturing, when The Pickwick Papers 
was in decline. There are just these two 
Pickwick swizzle sticks I have seen - one 
showing a little image of Mr Pickwick at 
the top, and the other from The Pickwick 
Arms hotel, in the shape of a baseball bat. 
However, tney bring back a memory of 
years ago, when I was writing about 
unusual leisure activities, and I 
interviewed a man called Ray Hoare, the 
founder of the International Swizzle Stick 
Collectors' Association. 

The thing Ray conveyed to me was the 
VASTNESS of some of the members' 
collections - there were collectors who 
had accumulated 20,30,40 THOUSAND 
swizzle sticks!! And Ray himself had 
50,000!!! Goodness knows how many he 
has now, because nearly twenty years 
have passed since my interview. 

And I have never forgotten what Ray told 
me: that if you want to develop a swizzle 
stick collection, the art of conversation is 
important. "I never cease to talk of the 
hobby, and it continues to pay off," he 
told me. "Day after day, no matter who'll 
listen, swizzle sticks ALWAYS come into 
the conversation." 

July 27 


Peter Stadlera's latest post features two pictures by 
Seymour, and two by Cruikshank. It is particularly 
interesting that Peter has posted that Seymour 
mechanical device - it is rather like some of the machines 
featured in Wallace and Gromit . . . and I have mentioned 
Wallace and Gromit in my first post today. And also, I 
have always liked that Seymour picture of Lord Jeffrey - 1 
often mention it when I give talks. If you look in the 
lower left-hand comer of the picture you will see a little 
'RS' - this is something I mention in Death and Mr 
Pickwick: it is a picture that Seymour made certain he 
took credit for after he was forced to work anonymously 
by the publisher McLean. 

"Stephen's post on Gillray today made me think about a 
Seymour cartoon of Lord Jeffrey. Here he portrays the 
Scottish politician Lord Jeffrey, who was known for his 
strict morality, and who preached on the effects of ‘unco 
gede living, ’ Scottish dialect for exceptionally good 
living, or a morally correct existence. Seymour interprets 
‘good living’ in another sense — and shows its effect upon 
Jeffrey’s waistline. 

July 29 

Sometimes a single piece of 
Pickwickiana deserves a post in its 
own right. This set of electroplated 
spoons is in pretty good condition for 
an item dated 1870 - and that year 

S ;sts that the set was made to 
Dickens's death. The figures on 
the handles represent Mr Pickwick, 

Mr Perker, The Fat Boy, Tony Weller, 
Sam Weller and Mrs Bardell, and the 
set is currently on sale for £1200. 
They echo the set of 'apostle spoons' 
presented to Dickens at the 
celebration party for the completion 
of The Pickwick Papers in 1837, as 
featured in Death and Mr Pickwick, 
though Dickens's set featured a larger 
range of characters. 

Incidentally, when describing that set of 
apostle spoons, I deliberately introduced a 
minor distortion: I said that Job Trotter was 
one of the characters on the spoons, and as I 
recall he was NOT featured in the set - or, if 
he WAS featured, it is not something I 
checked. The reason I introduced this 
departure from reality is that I wanted to 
'remind' readers of Job Trotter, who will 
reappear later in Death and Mr Pickwick. In 
writing a novel, one sometimes has to make 
minor distortions, in order to hold the book 
together, or to make things more dramatic. 
Another example of distortion is the 
conversion of letters into speech - 1 did this, 
for instance, in a scene involving Caroline 
Norton and Lord Melbourne: if I nad kept to 
strict 1 00 per cent accuracy, and retained 
the letters, the dramatic power would have 
been substantially reduced. 

The maker of the electroplated 
spoons, William Wheatcroft 
Harrison, was apparently a very 
successful businessman. In 1881, 
he built himself a house called 
Ranmoor Hall, which survives 
today, and has been described as "a 
huge Victorian stately pile built in 
1881 for a cutlery baron." 

July 29 

Here is an amazing post by Peter Stadlera. I had 
never heard of the fashion for child actors which 
is mentioned here. And this post has various 
echoes of Death and Mr Pickwick ■ not only John 
Bull, but also Mrs Siddons, the Kembles and toy 
theatre. What you are seeing here is an example 
of how Death and Mr Pickwick opens up vistas of 
new material. I have come across instances of 
this myself: a piece of Pickwickiana will 
sometimes lead one to look at examples of other 
things made by the same manufacturer. 

“Stephen recently posted Seymour's version of 
John Bull and The Nightmare. I found some more 
outstanding John Bull cartoons. In the first one 
we see John Bull in Lilliput or theatricals for 
the ninteenth century by Woodward (1755-1809, 
whose portrait is shown on the next page.). This 
cartoon is satirising the fashion for child actors 
that swept the country in the late 19th century, 
the most famous of whom was William Henry 
West or ‘Master Betty’. 

“His success led to ‘The Glasgow Roscius’ 
and ‘The Little Siddons’, named after 
Sarah Siddons. The children announcing 
their identities in this toy theatre take no 
notice of each other, and all appear to be 
costumed for a different play. 

John Bull plays a double bass for the tiny 
performers on a miniature stage. He is a 
fat 'cit' in old-fashioned dress wearing 
large spectacles over his ill-fitting wig. 
From his tightly closed lips issue the 

'Boys and Girls come out to play 
The Moon does shine as bright as Day, 
Come with a hoop, come with a call, 
Come with a good will, or not at all.' 

“On the stage players are posturing 
regardless of one another, each 
announcing his identity with 
theatrical gestures. 'The Real Young 
Roscius' wears oriental dress. 'The 
Glasgow Roscius' is in armour. 'The 
little Siddons' wears masculine dress. 
The others are 'The Infant Billington', 
'The Dublin new Roscius', and 'The 
little Orpheus'. On the proscenium: 
'Men are but Children of a larger 
Growth*. Below the footlights the 
front of the stage is decorated with 
festoons centred by a theatrical 
trophy: mask, trumpet pan-pipes, 
sabre, goblet, and laurel wreath. 

William Henry West is shown left. 

“I came across a cartoon by Issac 
Cruikshand, John Bull and Young 
Roscius. They are presented as 
rivals on the British stage to Mrs. 
Siddons and J.P. Kemble on the 
wall. The triple ostrich feathers on 
Master Betty's chair indicate 
patronage by the Prince of Wales. 

“Lastly, here is John Bull at the Italian 
Opera by Rowlandson (1811). The singer, a 
handsome young man of feminine 
appearance, bows, hands on heart, 
singing loudly. He wears quasi-Roman 
armour, with an enormous feathered 
helmet, a cloak, bare arms and legs, and 
buskins. In the centre of the lower box a 
stout man in regimentals yawns violently, 
looking disparagingly at the singer. A 
handsome lady next to him turns her head 
towards the stage. Four other men in the 
box are amused or quizzical; one uses an 
ear-trumpet. In the upper box an elderly 
'cit' grimaces with angry contempt; his 
wife yawns cavernously, as does a head in 
the background. The orchestra sit facing 
each other; all are elderly; all register 
active lack of appreciation.” 

July 29 

► Peter Stadlera tells us more about a 
pugilist who appears in the Daffy Club 
scene of Death and Mr Pickwick... 

► “In Death and Mr Pickwick we meet the 
pugilist Jack Scroggins (The Sailor) whose 
real name was John Palmer (1787-1836). 
Scroggins was never recognized as a 
champion but had a reputation as a rough, 
tough fighter who was ready to do battle 
whether inside the ring or at the local 
public house. In Boxiania by Pierce Egan 
we read that he sailed for 9 years on 
different merchantmen. He fought Bill 
Lee, the gipsy, Happy Jack, the terror of 
Portsmouth and even had a conquest over 
Dutch Sam. That sounds very adventurous 
to me!” 

July 30 

Here is the latest in the series about 
gin-based cocktails, made with 
Daffy's gin, the modern-day brand 
which takes its name from the 
nineteenth-century slang term for 
gin, which of course led to the name 
of the club featured in Death and Mr 
Pickwick, the Daffy Club. However, I 
have to say that Elaine and I had 
contrasting experiences of the 
cocktails we tried. 

First, Elaine tried a Birdie Cocktail, 
which consists of Daffy's gin, St 
Germain, lime and fresh mint. 
Elaine's verdict on the Birdie: 

But then I tried a cocktail which is mentioned in 
The Pickwick Papers. It's called a Dog's Nose. It 
consists of heated porter (or stout), gin, brown 
sugar and nutmeg. It is, I have to say, one of the 
most disgusting drinks I have ever drunk. I could 
take no more than a sip, and had to throw the 
rest away. 

Indeed, looking online, there are conflicting 
views about the origin of this cocktail's name 
which are relevant here. One explanation is that 
it is called a dog's nose because it is wet and 
black - and of course it does have those two 

3 ualities; but another explanation is that it is a 
rink fit only for a dog. 

And when I told Daffy Club enthusiast Alex 
Joanides about the drink, he suggested a third 
explanation, which I suspect could be the true 
one. Alex said: "I think the guy who invented it 
was having a bit of fun with reverse slang, 'cos it 
looks more like a Dog's Arse to me." 

July 30 

Here is another amazing post by Peter Stadlera. I 
have never heard of the cat-artist Louis Wain 
before, and at first sight he doesn't appear to 
have any connection to Death and Mr Pickwick. 
However, I am wondering whether there IS a 
connection. Wain drew anthropomorphised 
cats.. ..but so did Robert Seymour. I wonder 
whether Wain knew about Seymour's cat- 

E ictures, and was influenced by them. This could 
e an interesting little research project for 
someone, if they feel in the mood, sometime. 

Note that the cats are shown drinking 'Old Tom' - 
of course this is a pun on tom-cats, but also 'Old 
Tom' is another nineteenth-century slang term 
for gin which is mentioned in Death and Mr 
Pickwick, so this post forms an excellent 
companion to my own post of today, which 
centres on a piece of nineteenth-century gin 
slang, daffy. A great post, Peter. And thanks also 
to Sir Pelzi, the official Death and Mr Pickwick 
cat, for recommending this subject. 

“At Sir Pelzi's request, in today's post we 
shall have a look at a prominent painter of 
cats. During the Victorian era in England, 
cats enjoyed a resurgence in popularity 
partly because of their ability to control the 
rat population, and partly because they were 
relatively easy to care for and people found 
they made excellent pets. Cat clubs and cat 
shows became fashionable and in 1887 the 
National Cat Club was formed to enable both 
the well-to-do and the poor to enjoy the ‘Cat 
Fancy. ’ The emerging Cat Fancy in England 
changed people's attitudes towards the cat, 
and tne 1871 hosting of the Crystal Palace 
Exhibition show helped to focus positive 
attention on the cat, too. Louis Wain (1860- 
1939) also helped immensely in developing 
the changing attitude towards the cat. He 
was a cat breeder and judge and successor to 
Harrison Weir as president of the National 
Cat Club in 1 890, but Wain was also a cat 
artist extraordinaire. 


“Wain was born in England in 1860 
and in his early years was interested 
in music, authorship, chemistry and 
art. Music was his first career choice 
but he was not sufficiently dedicated 
and turned to the world ot art as an 
alternative. He was best known for 
his drawings, which consistently 
featured anthropomorphised large- 
eyed cats and kittens. In his later 
years he may have suffered from 
schizophrenia (although this claim is 
disputed), which, according to some 
psychiatrists, can be seen in his 
works. He did some quite funny 
pictures. Sit back ana enjoy the 
paintings of our feline fellows!” 

Peter Stadlera has also posted this 
view from a London restaurant, 
Gillray’s Steakhouse and Bar, which 
is named after the great cartoonist 
James Gillray, who of course 
features in Death and Mr Pickwick. 

July 30 

Here is the latest pic of Bertie, the 
official Death and Mr Pickwick dog. 
His owner, Chris Nevard, a keen 
guitarist, said: "I’m sorry Bertie, 
but this guitar might be even 
prettier than you... don't look at 
me like that..." 

July 30 

My last post featured Daffy's gin, and 
in his latest post Peter Stadlera tells 
us a lot more about the quack 
remedy, Daffy's Elixir, which gave rise 
to the slang term for gin. I knew a 
little about Daffy's Elixir, but this 
post told me a great deal more - 
including about the Elixir's properties 
as a laxative. 

“Following Stephen's latest post I 
want to have a look at a very special 
elixir against all kinds of ailment... 

In Death and Mr Pickwickwe read 
about Reverend Thomas Daffy's 
universal treatment for all illness and 
wonder about the man and the 

“Thomas Daffy (born 1680) was the 
inventor of Daffy's ‘Elixir Salutis'. 
He was a clergyman, who in 1 647 
was presented by the Earl of 
Rutland to the living of Harby, 
Leicestershire. His conduct as 
rector appears to have given 
offence to the Countess of Rutland, 
a lady of puritanical views, and in 
1 666 he was removed at her 
instigation to the inferior living of 
Redmile in the same county. There 
he remained to his death, which 
occurred in 1680. 

“In what year the medicine by which Daffy's 
name has been handed down was invented is 
not known, but the following passage from 
Adam Martindale's Autobiography (Chetham 
Society's Publications) seems to show that in 
1673 (the year in which Adam's daughter 
Elizabeth Martindale died of a severe cold 
and cough) it had already achieved 
considerable reputation: ‘That which seemed 
to doe her most good was elixir salutis, for it 
gave her much ease (my Lord Delamere 
having bestowed upon her severall bottles 
that came immediately from Mr. Daffie 
himself), and it also made her cheerful; but 
going forth and getting new cold she went 
fast away. I am really persuaded that if she 
had taken it a little sooner in due auantities, 
and been carefull of herself, it mignt have 
saved her life.' 

“In an advertisement inserted by 
Daffy's daughter Catherine in the 
Post Boy, 1 Jan. 1707-8, it is stated 
that during the inventor’s lifetime 
the elixirwas sold by his son Daniel, 
an apothecary at Nottingham, and 
that the secret of its preparation was 
also imparted to his kinsman Antony 
Daffy. The widow of the latter seems 
to have disputed Catherine's right to 
call herself proprietress of the 
popular soothing syrup. Daffy's Elixir 
was one among many self-help 
remedies sold commercially during 
the eighteenth century, that have 
been dubbed 'quack medicines' owing 
to their dubious chemical qualities 
and curative powers. 

“Promoters of Daffy's often chose not to reduce their 
potential markets by associating the product with any 
particular illness, although the usual price of Is. 3d. 
would have made it beyond the pockets of many people. 
This is illustrated by an advertisement placed in the 
Manchester Mercuiy in 1757 in which Daffy's is described 
asthe: ‘Original Elixir' , ‘so much approved of in Town 
and Country, which has perform'd such number of great 
cures, when all other Medicines have failed, 
recommended by several eminent Physicians. . . ’ Note also 
that, as in advertisements for other quack medicines, 
attention is given to prestigious patrons of the product. 
This advertisement also has the characteristic attack on 
other quacks seeking to counterfeit this exceptional 
product: ‘ . . . the Above Coat of Arms, Elixir and Cures 
done by it have been counterfeited by J. Eyres of 
Warrington, Freeman of the Borough, Martin of Leicester, 
Whitworth of Manchester; Russel in Queen Street, 
London’, and calls them ‘these ignorant Quacks who know 
nothing of the preparation. . . ’ 


“Such marketing techniques were used to elevate the 
credibility of the product and the promoter in the public's 
mind. The OED definition states that daffy's was first 
produced as a remedy for tooth ache, particularly for 
teething babies. A later OED quotation (1857) confirms 
that a product called Daffy's Elixir treated tooth ache. 
Our sources demonstrate that this was a generic name 
applied to different remedies over time, but that it was 
first introduced and extensively formulated as a laxative. 
This is verified by our recipe sources. For example, a 
recipe of 1700 for ‘True Daffy’ lists the following 
common ingredients, many of which were purgatives: 
chemical analysis carried out in the 1 940s of a bottle of 
Daffy's that had been excavated, confirmed that this was 
a laxative that would have been made largely from 
alcohol, with SENNA as a chief ingredient. One of the 
most common forms of alcohol used was GIN; hence the 
slang name Daffy's for gin." 

July 31 

Today, I thought I would post a single 
picture from an auction catalogue - 
showing a collection of porcelain figures, 
all portraying the Mr Pickwick-forerunner 
Doctor Syntax. There is something 
nightmarish about seeing these iterations 
of the same character, especially as one 
of the figures is posed exactly like the 
book illustration behind it, as though a 
small-scale Doctor Syntax army has 
marched out of the pages of fiction, and 
invaded reality. This picture indeed 
reminds me of the episode of Doctor Who 
in which the Doctor's enemy, the Master, 
as played by John Simm, created a 'Master 
Race', in which everyone looked like 

If William Combe, the writer of Doctor 
Syntax, ever had troubled dreams, they 
might nave looked like this... 

July 31 

This post by Peter Stadlera gives more 
indications of how Seymour was moving 
towards the idea of Pickwick before he 
met Dickens. Note that YET AGAIN, one of 
Seymour's characters looks like a 
forerunner to Mr Pickwick. It is interesting 
to compare all this evidence for previous 
Pickwickian lookalikes with the evidence 
for John Foster, the supposed original of 
Mr Pickwick proposed by Edward 
Chapman, and endorsed by Dickens, for 
note the theme of elopement here, with 
the Gretna picture, which chimes strongly 
with the elopement in The Pickwick 
Papers, when Jingle runs away with 
Rachael Wardle. 

“In Death and Mr Pickwick we read 
about A Search for the 
comfortable, being the Adventures 
of a gentleman of small fortune. 
That's a series of etchings by 
Robert Seymour published in 1829 
by Thomas McLean. 

“This rare suite of plates is a 
satiric 'poke' at the upper echelons 
of society and their attempts to 
improve the quality of their lives 
by gaming, art, travel and 
romance, in six plates, each plate 
consisting of about five subjects'. 

In this form he had produced The 
Heiress, a farce in 6 plates 
published by McLean in 1830. The 
sketches include: The Surprise ; 
Anticipation; Hey! For London; The 
Metamorphose; Chevalier 
Nonctone, Professor of Languages; 
Carl Matilda Von Grump, Professor 
of Music; Fashionable Exclusives; 
Military Dandies; The Opera, 
Handed out by the Captain; The 
Card Party, Flirting with the 
Captain; The Lecture; and Gretna. 

August 1 

► The American artist LeRoy Neiman (1921-2012) 
was probably best known for his brilliantly- 
coloured paintings of sporting figures, but he 
also did this painting, The Pickwick Club, in 
1966. It depicts a scene in The Pickwick Club in 
London's Theatreland. I have posted about this 
members-only nightclub before: many of the big 
showbiz names of the 1960s were members, 
including The Beatles - and a note on the reverse 
of the painting even mentions George Harrison 
as one of those portrayed. [The note in full says: 
The Pickwick Club / At Bar / J.P. Donleary / 

David Warner / Michael Chaplin / Foreground / 
George Harrison / George/Asserty (Beattie) / 
Terence Stamp]. 

► The LeRoy Neiman Foundation couldn't tell me 
much about the painting, but they did say this: 
"LeRoy was living in Europe at the time the 
painting was created. He was at the time doing 
articles for Playboy called Man at his Leisure, 
but I am unsure whether this was created for 
that article or not. He often painted nightclubs 
and restaurants after visiting them himself." 

The resident group at The Pickwick 
Club was a jazz/soul trio called The 
Peddlers, and their album Live at 
The Pickwick is available on youtube: 
https:/ /www. youtube, com /watch?v= 

Strangely enough, the DJ who 
introduces this album, Pete Murray, 
once interviewed me for a radio 
programme, when I was writing 
about unusual leisure activities, 
probably around the time my book 
The Ultimate Guide to Unusual 
Leisure was published. 

On a number of occasions, I have 
posted Mr Pickwick statuettes, 
models and other three-dimensional 
representations of the character, but 
a fresh angle on this subject is 
provided by ILLUSIONS of three- 
dimensionality, which is the subject 
of this post. 

The first three pictures show a very 
rare piece of Pickwickiana: a so- 
called depth-o-gram advertising 
Pickwick Ale. A depth-o-gram was a 
forerunner to a hologram - a lighted 
sign which produced a three- 
dimensional image by means of 
multiple layers of painted glass. 

► And in the nineteenth century, 
there were Pickwickian 
stereoviews". Here is a stereoview 
optical device, which combined 
two photos to produce a single 
three-dimensional image. 

► The first dual-photo featured here 
shows the town of Pickwick, 
Minnesota, and its mill - a place 
which of course is mentioned in 
Death and Mr Pickwick. 

► But I have found several examples of stereoviews 
online featuring Mr Pickwick and his associates. I 
suspect that there are lots more Pickwick 
stereoviews out there, waiting to be discovered. 
Indeed, I have found three separate stereoviews of 
the scene in which Mr Pickwick wandered into a 
lady's bedroom, when he was cast in the role of a 
Peeping Tom. The erotic undertones of this episode 
are reminiscent of What the Butler Saw and this 
probably explains the special interest that 
stereoview companies took in this scene. 

August 2 

Combe and Rowlandson's English 
Dance of Death is featured in Death 
and Mr Pickwick, and in this post 
Peter Stadlera zooms in on the idea 
of antiquaries joining in the dance. 
Also, as Peter says, antiquaries were 
frequently seen as out of touch with 
the practicalities of life, and this of 
course provides a substantial part of 
Mr Pickwick's character. When I 
discovered that Seymour had drawn a 
picture of the Society of Antiquaries, 
it suddenly made it entirely plausible 
that he was responsible for that 
aspect of The Pickwick Papers. 

“In Thomas Rowlandson's 
caricature, Death and the 
Antiquaries, 1816, we see a group 
of antiquaries cluster eagerly 
around the exhumed corpse of a 
king, oblivious to the jealous figure 
of Death aiming his dart at one of 
them. The image was inspired by 
the opening of the tomb of Edward 
I in Westminster Abbey by the 
Society of Antiquaries in 1774. 

“The Antiquary's Last Will and 
Testament is within the English 
Dance of Death series. Antiquaries 
often appeared to possess an 
unwholesome interest in death, 
decay, and the unfashionable; while 
their focus on obscure and arcane 
details meant that they seemed to 
lack an awareness both of the 
realities and practicalities of modern 
life, and of the wider currents of 
history. For all these reasons they 
frequently became objects of 
ridicule in the caricatures of 
Rowlandson and others. 

► “The New Dictionary of the Terms 
Ancient and Modern of the Canting 
Crew of c.1698 defines an 
antiquary as ‘A curious critic in old 
Coins, Stones and Inscriptions, in 
Worm-eaten Records and ancient 
Manuscripts, also one that affects 
and blindly dotes, on Relics, Ruins, 
old Customs, Phrases and 

”1 really had to laugh about the 
etching by John Bowles named The 
Puzzle (1756): four antiquaries 
struggle to decipher what seems to 
be an ancient inscription (please 
have a look at the gentleman on 
the right side), but which is in fact 
a crude memorial to Claud Coster, 
tripe-seller, and his wife. The print 
is ironically dedicated to ‘the 
Penetrating Genius's of Oxford, 
Cambridge, Eaton, Westminster, 
and the Learned Society of 

► “If you want to join the Society of 
Antiquaries of London, you'll find 
the entrance to the premises at 
Burlington House, Piccadilly.” 

August 2 


Peter Stadlera's wonderful enthusiasm for Death and 
Mr Pickwick has now led him in a new, unusual 
direction in a post - he goes from the use of the 
word 'Cocky' in Death and Mr Pickwick, to an album 
actually called Cocky. 

“In Death and Mr Pickwick, Kelly says to an 
apprentice door-to-door-bookseller ‘Don't get cocky. 
Sense of humour, yes. Confidence, yes. Cocky no.’ I 
don't think he actually had that Kid Rock album 
Cocky in mind... 


► “Well, the ingredients on that 
album are all there for ongoing 
street sellers if you have a quick 
look at the tracklist: What I 
Learned on the Road, Lonely Road 
of Faith, Picture, Drunk in the 
Morning.... ” 

August 2 

Is This A Hackney Photograph of Charles Dickers? 
- Melvyn Brooks Describes his Intriguing Discovery 

Sally England has just sent me this 
fascinating material about Dickens 
and Hackney, which I am posting as a 
picture. (You will probably have to 
zoom to see the details.) Although I 
tend to avoid general Dickens-related 
material on this page - unless it has a 
connection to The Pickwick Papers, 
of course - this material is connected 
to Death and Mr Pickwickv ia 
Dickens's first published work, A 
Dinner at Poplar Walk (later retitled 
Mr Minns and His Cousin) which of 
course appears in a scene in Death 
and Mr Pickwick. 

August 3 








Another mystery relating to Robert Seymour concerns his 
last work, published posthumously in parts in 1838: the 
curiously titled Hippins Hiphippins. This publication 
seems to have vanished off the face of the earth - 1 have 
searched for it, but I haven't found a single copy. There is 
just the advertisement which is in this post. Apart from 
that, the only traces left of Hippins Hiphippins are some 
mentionsin contemporary journals, including summaries 
of the first couple of parts. The work was apparently in a 
similar vein to Pickwick, but was described as having 
'higher pretensions'. The supplier of the letterpress to 
Seymour was a mysterious person identified only by the 
pseudonym 'Larkspur'. 

I would have liked to have included Hippins Hiphippins in 
Death and Mr Pickwick, but with so little material to 
work with, I thought that was impossible: I did not even 
know the nature of the scenes that Seymour illustrated. 

However, I still keep alive the slight hope that a copy 
might turn up one day, and I hope too that DaMP fans 
browsing in secondhand bookshops will keep an eye open 
for it. 

August 3 

Deal 1 1 
and \jr. 



" 4 s — - 

Here is an amazing review of Death and Mr 
Pickwick on by Jim 

"I approached this book cautiously. I am a fan 
of Dickens, particularly The Pickwick Papers 
and was skeptical of the book's blurb: 'richly 
imagined', 'magnificent', 'brilliantly brought 
to life'. I found that all this was not only 
true, but understated. Of all the hundreds of 
books I’ve read in my lifetime, I find 'Death 
and Mr. Pickwick' to be among the top two or 
three. It’s one of those rare books for which 
one grieves after the last page is read. It’s 
also one of those books one reads over and 
over. Its scope is wide, its plot is intricate 
without being unwieldy, and it is endlessly 
interesting. I recommend it highly." 

Many thanks, Jim! 

August 3 

A post by John Thomas McElheny... 

Have you spotted any other statues 
reading Death and Mr Pickwick, 
recently, DaMP fans? If you have, 
please send me pics... 

August 3 

David Whittaker is re-reading Death and Mr Pickwick, and 
posting relevant pics as he goes through the pages. For 
page f83, he posted this Seymour pic which relates to the 
actor John Liston. As regular visitors to this page will 
recall, Ian Beale did a fine post about this picture some 
weeks ago, and now Peter Stadlera gives his own post on 
the subject. Also, I recently found a snuffbox depicting 
Liston in various roles, which I shall post as a comment at 
the bottom of this post. The interesting thing about the 
snuffbox is that it captures the ugliness for which Liston 
was known - in some portrayals, he is shown in a rather 
more flattering way. 

“David Whittaker has posted the illustration of Twould 
Puzzle a Conjurer mentioned in Death and Mr Pickwick.. 
In this satirical print by Robert Seymour we see George 
IV, dressed in Liston's part, as the Conjurer, looking 
askance at John Bull (right) who presents a lengthy 
petition headed The Humble Petition of John Bull. The 
king wears a wig of many curls resting on his shoulders, 
and quasi-seventeenth-century dress, with a steeple- 
crowned hat, sash, and very baggy breeches with pockets 
from which the sceptre and crown project. 

“The Kina takes one end of the scroll held by J. B., who 
says: ‘MyName'sBull, Sir, and if it may please Your 
Worships Glory, to spare a moment from Your pastimes, 
and read how bad times are with Us, perhaps You'd have 
the goodness to Mend 'em. ’ The King, disconcerted, 
answers, with a puzzled frown: ‘Mend 'em indeed ifs 
easily said mend 'em!! ‘ J. B., a plainly dressed fellow, 
has gaunt cheeks, his pocket hangs inside out. Behind 
him. his starving wife, in red cloak, crosses her hands on 
her breast, curtseying; a gaunt ragged boy plucks a 
forelock, two other boys register hunger, anxiety, or 
despair. Lady Conyngham has thrust her left arm through 
the King's and points with jaunty insouciance to the left, 
where the newly arrived giraffe is waiting, with a royal 
crown poised on its horns. On the beast are two saddles, 
one for the King in front, a side-saddle behind. One 
African holds a rope attached to its head, another places 
a ladder against its side. A background of trees indicates 
Windsor Park. 

And on the left we see John Liston (1776-1846), the 
highest- paid comic actor on the English stage in his day, 
asVan Dunder in John Poole's comedy 'Twould Puzzle a 
Conjurer, first produced at London's Haymarket Theatre 
on 11 September 1824. Itis based on a print published by 
Hodgson in 1 826 which shows Liston as nine of his best- 
known characters. 

► “Pottery figures of seven of the 
characters are known to exist. 

“Liston achieved his greatest 
successes in farce, and particularly 
as the inquisitive Paul Pry, a role in 
which he was often depicted in 
paintings, drawings and figurines. 
Later comedians, including Toole, 
imitated his dress and manner in 
the role. 



And here is the snuffbox featuring 
Liston. Note how it shows him in 
various roles. 

August 4 

In Death and Mr Pickwick, a widow 
goes into a butcher's shop and says 
to the butcher's boy: "I saw you the 
other day reading Pickwick as you 
walked along with your tray on 
your shoulder." 

► This is an allusion to something the 
critic and philosopher G H Lewes 
(best known as the partner of Mary 
Ann Evans, aka George Eliot) wrote 
in 1837 about The Pickwick Papers: 
"Even the common people, both in 
town and country, are equally 
intense in their admiration. 
Frequently, have we see the butcher- 
boy, with his tray on his shoulder, 
reading with the greatest avidity the 
last Pickwick ; the footman (whose 
fopperies are so inimitably laid 
bare), the maidservant, the chimney 
sweep, all classes, in fact, read 

► And while on the subject of 
butcher's boys... here is a Seymour 
double-picture featuring in the 
left-hand half a butcher's boy, 
playing a tune on a meat-cleaver, 
while the right hand half shows a 
thief attempting to steal from a 

► Interestingly, there is an old 
tradition of playing meat-cleavers - 
and it is carried on today by a band 
called the Dead Rat Orchestra. You 
can see them a clip of them on 

► Though I have to say the music is 

Rough Music Feal Dead Rat Orchestra SHORT HD nOt tO my taSte .. . 

August 4 


The great Pe' 
mentioned in 

eat Peter Stadlera now turns his attention to a publisher 
MrPicfcwicfcj Wijliam Strange. Peter^ ^ 

led me with a bit of a dilemma. 
Holt seemed to me a very interesting character, but his 
publishing experience (as I recall), which demonstrated that 
character, mostly happened AFTER Figaro - and so really, at 
the time of launching Figaro, he was something of an unknown 

novel without losing readers. In the end, I decided upon one of 
those minor distortions which I have mentioned before, and 
which are crucial to holding a novel together: I shifted forward 
Holt's publishing experience, so that it nad already happened, 
and thereby I enabled him to emerge as a full-bodied character 


: / /www. inde pen den lifestyle/ why- dub li ns-mi 
er-fondly-parodied-the-dublin-accent- 28948259. h' 

“In Death and Mr Pickwick we read about the 
publisher William Strange. Well, in the 1840s 
and 1850s the name of William Strange was 
associated with two publishing scandals. In 
1849, Strange was the subject of legal action 
by Prince Albert to prevent the publication of 
a catalogue of privately-owned etchings, in a 
case with had profound implications for the 
law on privacy. In 1857, Strange was 
imprisoned for publishing two obscene libels, 
in the periodicals Women of London and Paul 
Pry. Prior to this. Strange had been a close 
associate of fellow-publishers George Cowie 
and George Purkess, and he had issued a 
large number of cheap periodicals and 
penny-part serials from his premises at 21 
Paternoster Row. He was also in and out of 
the bankruptcy courts. But so, too, was his 
son, also named William Strange, who 
followed his father into the bookselling and 
publishing business, and it is sometimes 
difficult to distinguish between the two. 


“Strange’s activities as a publisher began 
in November 1824, when, in partnership 
with Cowie, he launched the London 
Mechanics’ Register, a 16-page weekly 
covering developments in science, 
engineering etc. This ran for two years 
before they sold it to another publisher. In 
1827, in partnership with Cowie (as Cowie 
and Strange, Paternoster Row and Fetter 
Lane), he published the 4-volume The 
Histories and Antiquities of London. 

One of Strange’s most successful ventures 
was Figaro in London, a weekly satirical 
paper owned by Thomas Littleton Holt and 
edited by GilbertAbbot a Beckett (with 
illustrations by Seymour), which ran from 
December 1831 to August 1839. 

“Much of Strange’s output throughout the 1 830s was 
political in nature, with titles such as The People's Book, 
Comprising their Chartered Rights and Practical Wrongs 
(1831). But Strange was also noted for his penny bloods 
and similar material, including Valentine and Orson 
(1 832), The Innkeeper ’s Daughter 1 1 832), Richard Turpin, 
The Highwayman (1833), Tatesof All Nations, or Popular 
Legends ana Romance ( 1 836), and Annals of the Age, or 
The Crimes of London (1 838-39). He also issued a series 
of Popular Dramas in 1834-35. In January 1844 Strange, 
as a bookseller, was a party to an injunction obtained by 
Charles Dickens to prevent publication of a bowdlerised 
version of A Christmas Carol, which was being serialised 
in Peter Parley’s Illuminated Library (itself a 
misappropriation of the original Peter Parley publications 
as Peter Parley was the nom de plume of Samuel 
Grisworld Goodrich, who wrote more than a hundred 
works for young children during the early 1800s). Dickens 
sued the magazine’s owners, Richard Egan Lee and Henry 
Hewitt, but immediately after winning nis case Lee and 
Hewitt declared themselves bankrupt, and Dickens was 
left with £700 court costs. 

“On 18 February 1849, Strange sold his 
publishing business to his som for 75% of its 
actual value (as revealed in The Times, 24 
February 1851 ). William Strange the Elder 
continued in business as, it seems, a 
bookseller. The 1861 census recorded him 
living at 6 Downs Cottages, Hackney, 
described as a bookseller employing four 
boys. With him were his wife, his son Thomas 
(then a 25 year-old railway clerk), and his 
daughters Sarah, Eliza ana Mary Ann. Ten 
years later he was living at 1 90 Lancaster 
Road, Kensington, described as a retired 
bookseller, along with Eliza, Mary Ann, and, 
suggesting a small degree of financial 
comfort, a servant. He died in Barnsley, 
Yorkshire, on 6 September 1871 (although his 
home address was given as 1 92 Lancaster 
Road, Kensington), and was buried in Kensal 
Green Cemetery. Rather oddly, perhaps, he 
left an estate worth under £50. ’ 

August 4 

Here are some fine pics that I have 
just received: “Jim Brown, John 
Thomas McElheny and Mark 
Saunders take a waterfront lunch 
break in Georgetown, SC to discuss 
our favorite book.” 

August 5 

Here Is an interesting single-image showing ar. 

etchings by Robert Seymour on sale on ebay - 1 

not concerned with their close-up details today, but 
rather with the tongshot': the different colours of paper 
the sketches were printed on, which symbolise the 
desperation of the Seymour family, after the artists 
suicide. Mrs Seymour tried to earn money by selling her 
late husband's old pictures - and in order to give 
freshness to the drawings, they were printed on paper of 
different colours. I cannot imagine the colour change 
would have had much effect, though. 

The pictures were originally published by Richard Carlile, 
as I mention in Death and Mr Pickwick , but he fell into 
financial difficulties, and sold the rights to another 
publisher, who in turn sold them on to Tregear of 
Cheapside. One only hopes that Tregear did not require 
payment in advance from Mrs Seymour - it is easy to 
imagine the misery that unsold prints would bring, and of 
Mrs Seymour spiraling downwards into despair. Tregear 
was actually the brother-in-law of another characterwho 
appears in Death and Mr Pickwick, namely the printseller 

August 5 

“In Death and Mr Pickwick and in today's post by Stephen 
we read about 62 Fleet Street, Richard Carb'le's shop. The 
frontispiece to The Scourge of Saturday 29 01 November 
1 834 featured a woodcut engraving showing the front of 

Carble’s shop, with the controversial caricature displays 
mounted in the upper windows. It is attitudes such as 
these which explain why the authorities took the 
extraordinary step of arresting Carlile in the autumn of 
1834. Carlile was a well-known radical, a friend and 
associate of Henry Hunt and a man who had already 
served several jail terms on charges relating to the 
publication of seditious, blasphemous and libellous 
material. In October 1834 his shop was raided by police 
after the publisher refused to pay tithes to the Anglican 
church on the grounds that he was an atheist. CarGle 
retaliated by having two life-sized anti-clerical 
caricatures mounted in the first floor window of 
shop. The first depicted a stereotypical image of a greedy 
pawnbroker and was labelled Temporal Broker, whilst the 
second consisted of a bishop cavorting arm-in-arm with 
Satan under the title Spiritual Broker. The 
Props of the Church was then painted aero: 
the shop in large lettering. 



: of 

"Inevitably the decision to mount a life-sized large and 
deliberately provocative caricature 20 feet above one of 
London’s busiest thoroughfares resulted in huge crowds 
congregating in Fleet Street. The various witnesses who 
appeared at CarUle’s trial claimed that groups of at least 
40-50 people were perpetually gatheredoutside CarBle’s 
shop and that omnibuses and coaches blocked the road as 
drivers stopped to gawp at the effigies. Worst of all, 
several ‘respectable’ ladies had been forced to flee into 
nearby shops in order to escape the leers and catcalls of 
many of the men who had gathered to see the display. A 
policeman who later appeared at Carlile’s trial said 'I 
have lived in London ail my life - 1 never saw a crowd of 
people congregate at a shop window in that way in my 
life - 1 never saw a caricature shop window as bad as 
that. ’ CarUle was found guilty ana, after refusing to pay 
sureties of £200 for the good behaviour of himself and 
two of his employees, sentenced to three years 
imprisonment for creating a public nuisance. After the 
sentence CarHIe scoffed at the idea of handing money 
over to the authorities: ‘It is a mockery to say thatl may, 
if I please, purchase my liberty. I cannot do it.. I will not 
interfere to abate one hour of the imprisonment. When 
the gates are open to me I will walk out, but I will not 
pay or do anything to procure release. ’ He also added 
that he would rather ‘be free in prison than shackled 
outside. ’ In the 2nd picture you see 62 Fleet Street 

August 6 

► Here is an extraordinary 

interpretation of Mr Pickwick by 
the British sculptor Kenneth 
Rowden (1935-1999) - indeed, I 
think this is one of the most radical 
interpretations of the character 
that I have seen. Rowden originally 
worked as a welder, which led to a 
successful career as a sculptor. 

August 6 

And for my second post today, as I 
won’t be able to post tomorrow... I 
recently posted a picture of a 
hologram-forerunner, a depth-o- 
gram of Mr Pickwick, which was 
used to advertise Pickwick 
Ale. That was a rare item. But on 
ebay the other day I was surprised 
to discover this 1930s cap, which I 
suspect is even rarer - it was worn 
by Pickwick Ale delivery drivers. 

August 6 

Here is the latest review of Death 
and Mr Pickwick, which I have to 
say I don't think is entirely fair. 

http: / / 




August 8 

► This is a picture from Vanity Fair 
magazine of 1897, of Dickens's son, 
Henry Fielding Dickens, who was a 
barrister. The significant thing 
about it is the caption which was 
published alongside the picture: 
"His father invented Pickwick". It 
proves that at that period, 

Pickwick was THE representative 
Dickens work. Forget A Christmas 
Carol, Oliver Twist and the rest - 
Pickwick was the thing to boast 

August 9 

© (Examiner 

On Saturday, I posted a review of Death and Mr Pickwick 
which appeared in the Irish Examiner. At the time of 
posting, I was getting ready to leave Elaine's parents' 
house, to go her family's reunion, and I didn't really take 
in all of the review's contents, except that I thought it 
was unfair. However, having had a look at it again, it 
makes me very angry indeed. 

For a start, I don't think the reviewer has even read the 
book. Note her statement that Dickens yielded to the 
entreaties of Chapman and Hall "but on condition that 
the relationship between artist and writer was to be 
reversed: the text would dictate the images, not the 
other way around.” This the very thing which DOES NOT 
happen in Death and Mr Pickwick 1 . The reviewer is simply 
quoting the traditional and incorrect view of Pickwick's 
origins, which she has presumably got from the two 
Dickens biographies she mentions, by Slater and TomaHn. 
Also, there is the statement “a man called Foster is to be 
confused with Forster in a ruse typical of Jarvis.'' No one 
who had read DaMP properly would say this is MY ruse - 
its the ruse of Forster, Dickens and Chapman. 



► Then there is the claim that the book has no ending. This 
simply isn't true. The book has a very definite ending - 
Scripty completes the task which was set for him by Mr 
Inbelicate. What the reviewer has obviously done (and 
she admits she looked at the last pages of the book) is to 
mistake the 'coda' concerning the mad sailor in the 
mausoleum for the book's conclusion. 

► Also, she refers to Seymour shooting himself after his 
'only meeting with Dickens - again, the traditional view 
of the origins of Pickwick, which DaMP explicitly rejects. 
There areTWO meetings between Seymour and Dickens 
in Death and Mr Pickwick. 

This review is a disgrace. But it's bound to have a 
detrimental effect on sales: no one would be inspired to 
read a book which the reviewer describes as 'almost 
impenetrable' and likens to a doctoral thesis. Indeed, 
that 'doctoral thesis' allegation is one of the most 
ludicrous of all, especially as the reviewer also claims 
that I am 'a storyteller of Dickensian measure'. Can I 
really be both? 

August 9 

Here is Peter Stadlera's latest post, with 
more great material on the historical 
background to Death and Mr Pickwick. 

“In Death and Mr Pickwick we read about 
the Poor Law Amendment Act. Through 
the early 1800s, an intolerant attitude 
towards the poor was becoming more 
prevalent among the upper classes i.e. 
the voting public. In 1830 the rural 
workers of the arable south and east of 
England rose in the so called Swing riots. 
They demanded higher wages and an end 
to the threshing machine which destroyed 
their winter employment. They reinforced 
their demands with rick-burning, the 
destruction of the threshing machines and 
cattle-maiming among other things. In the 
aftermath of the Swing riots, the 
government enacted the Poor Law 
Amendment Act. in 1834. 

"It was based on the premise that government 
financial assistance created a culture of 
dependence. Under the terms of the Act: 

- No able-bodied person was to receive money or 
other help from the Poor Law authorities except 
in a workhouse 

- Conditions in workhouses were to be made very 
harsh to discourage people from wanting to 
receive help 

- Workhouses were to be built in every parish or, 
if parishes were too small, in unions of parishes 

- Ratepayers in each parish or union had to elect 
a Board of Guardians to supervise the 
workhouse, to collect the Poor Rate and to send 
reports to the Central Poor Law Commission 

- The three man Central Poor Law Commission 
would be appointed by the government and 
would be responsible for supervising the 
Amendment Act throughout the country. 

► “However, not all shared this point 
of view. Some people, such as 
Richard Oastler, spoke out against 
the new Poor Law, calling the 
workhouses ‘Prisons for the Poor’. 

August 9 

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I enjoyed writing the laughing gas scene 
of Death and Mr Pickwick - in a way, it 
reflects the 'sad clown' motif: the smile on 
one's face does not necessarily indicate 
happiness. Here is the great Peter 
Stadlera on the subject - and note the 
poster which Peter has found, which uses 
Seymour artwork. 

“In Death and Mr Pickwick we read about 
The Grand Exhibition of the Effects on 
Inhaling Nitrous Oxide and find a 
Prescription For Scolding Wives. The 
promoters of the Grand Exhibition of 
Laughing Gas were keen to target a 
reputable audience. ‘The gas will be 
administered only to gentlemen of the 
first respectability. The object is to make 
the entertainment in every respect a 
genteel affair’, its advertising posters 

“Unfortunately, events sometimes 
got a bit out of hand. Worries that 
the gas might be habit-forming did 
not weigh heavily in promotional 
leaflets: ‘Those who inhale the Gas 
once, are always anxious to inhale 
it a second time.’ Well, the 
prospect of using nitrous oxide to 
subdue ‘shrewish’ women appealed 
to some Victorian male 

► “Likewise in the contemporary era, 
psychotropic medications are 
sometimes used for the purposes of 
social control rather than therapy. 

“The group of poets carousing and 
composing verse under the 
influence of laughing gas is another 
Seymour etching from 1829.” 

August 10 

Now, I know that some people are of 
the opinion that, whenever I talk 
about 'Pickwickian research', it is just 
another name for an extended 
session of eating and drinking. But, 
oh, how misguided that belief! And 
this post proves my point. 

Admittedly, I WAS consuming a 
fabulous pulled pork slider, 
accompanied by a thirst-quenching 
Irish Red beer, at The Savvy Sailor 
cafe in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, 
when the first picture was taken; 

We were in Nova Scotia for the reunion of 
the Halverson family - a gathering of the 
descendants of Elaine's great-grandfather, 
Halver Halverson, who emigrated to 
Canada from Norway. Various family 
photos were displayed at a hall in the 
town of Tatamagouche, where the reunion 
party happened... And here I am with 
Elaine’s mother Jeanne, who is using the 
Death and Mr Pickwick bookmark to 
indicate a very significant photo, which I 
have posted about before: the photo 
taken in England, when Elaine was a very 
small girl, in which Jeanne stood before 
the Commodore coach... that's right, the 

If you have not seen the post 
where I talk about this uncanny 
incident, here is the picture again. 

And chatting to Elaine's father 
Peter, I discovered that just prior 
to the Commodore photo being 
taken, the family had had a picnic 
at Hurley. I feel that it is highly 
likely that someday Elaine and I 
will have a picnic at Hurley 
too... purely in the name of 
Pickwickian research, of course... 

August 10 

► The printseller Thomas McLean is 
an important person in Seymours 
career, and in his latest post Peter 
Stadlera takes a look at the man 
and his business. 

► “In Death and Mr Pickwick we read 
about Thomas McLean's Haymarket 
window... Thomas McLean (1788- 
1875) was a London printseller and 
publisher who specialised in the 
publication of political caricatures 
(many of them are in the National 
Portrait Gallery). 

► “He issued hundreds of such 
cartoons in journals such as the 
Monthly Sheet of Caricatures. I 
picked out George Lamb, William 
Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire, 
Arthur Wellesley, 1 st Duke of 
Wellington and of course 2 pictures 
by Seymour, Two hundred years 
hence, or, an aerial ship taking in 
passengers and Ennuie. 

“In the mid-1860s, he began holding annual 
exhibitions of water-colour drawings, and 
quickly became known as one of the leading 
dealers in London. In his guidebook to London, 
Charles Eyre Pascoe gave potential visitors a long 
description of McLean’s specializations: ‘Mr. 
McLean, in the Haymarket (No. 7), is a well- 
known and discriminating collector of the works 
of modern English artists. His gallery generally 
contains some good water-colour drawings by 
prominent members of the Royal Society and 
Royal Institute of Painters in Water-Colours; and 
he periodically arranges special exhibitions of 
the works of some one painter of acknowledged 
reputation. Mr. McLean is also one of the most 
noteworthy of the ‘printsellers’ of the west end 
of town, as may be judged by a cursory glance as 
his window. Annually in May he has an exhibition 
of oil-paintings; ana in the autumn of water- 
colour drawings, which deserves the attention of 
the visitor going the round of the London art- 

► “McLean’s shop was taken over by 
Eugene Cremetti and business was 
conducted at the same address 
until at least 1922. The black and 
white photo shows the Haymarket 
view south from White Lion St in 

August 10 

A Covent Garden Gilflurt's Guide to Life 

I have written a piece for 
Catherine Curzon's website which 
describes the evolution of Death 
and Mr Pickwick. It's called ‘The 
Seven Ages of Death and Mr 
Pickwick’, and you can read it 




August 10 

David Whittaker is continuing his re-read 
of Death and Mr Pickwick ana is posting 
pics as he goes. Here is a picture he has 
found for page 278 - Robert Seymour's 
portrayal of a murder by the infamous 
bodysnatchers, Burke and Hare. It is 
noteworthy that so many Dickensians view 
Seymour as merely a sporting artist, when 
his sporting pics were just a minor part of 
his overall portfolio. By far the largest 
number of his works were political 
cartoons, but occasionally he would do 
works of a gruesome nature, such as this 
one of Burke and Hare. Of course, by 
characterising Seymour as a sporting 
artist, you make him fit the role assigned 
to him in Dickens's lies about the origins 
of Pickwick - that is, as the man who 
supposedly came up with the sporting 
Nimrod Club, and nothing else. 

August 10 

Peter Stadlera has found a great 
link about Scheherazade, the 
narrator of the Arabian Nights 
stories, who is mentioned in Death 
and Mr Pickwick. 

http: / / levekunst. com/for- 
scheherazade / 

These stories had a profound 
influence on Dickens, and I read 
them as part of my preparation for 
writing DaMP. They are, simply, 
wonderful. I would rank the 
Arabian Nights as among the 
greatest books I have ever read. 

August 10 

Peter Stadlera has also posted this 
link about people who have sold 
their soul to the Devil. This links to 
DaMP in two ways. Firstly, in The 
Pickwick Papers, one of Sam 
Weller's Wellerisms refers to Doctor 
Faustus: "He wants you particklar, 
and no one else'll do, as the devil's 
private secretary said ven he 
fetched avay Doctor Faustus." 
Secondly, the Der Freischutz 
section of DaMP is itself about 
selling one's soul to Satan. 

August 10 

Peter Stadlera now posts about 
carpet bags, and a notorious murder 
involving such a bag. I have posted 
about carpet bags myself, and 
mentioned this murder, but Peter 
goes into far more detail than I did. 

“In Death and Mr Pickwick we read 
about Robert Seymour bringing in 
some sketches in a carpet bag. A 
carpet bag is a traveling bag made of 
carpet, commonly from an oriental 
rug. They were a popular form of 
luggage in the United States and 
Europe in the 19th century. Some 
modern versions serve as handbags or 

“In connection with the tradition of 
carpet bags I came across a very 
interesting and chilling mystery story of 
1857: The Thames Carpet Bag Mystery. 

On the night of 9 October, the toll-taker 
at Waterloo Bridge helped a woman 
through his gate carrying a large carpet 
bag. He remembered her as short, sallow 
and with a gruff, masculine voice. The 
next morning, some boys boating on the 
Thames found the bag on a bridge 
abutment. It had been lowered with a 
rope to avoid a splash, but the current 
had washed it on to the footings of the 
bridge. Inside the bag were 23 Dones, 
minus the skull, and a full suit of blood- 
soaked clothing bearing the holes left by a 
series of savage knife wounds. 

“For days, the press provided explicit 
details. The sex, for example, was 
determined by ‘a portion of the 
anatomical structure of the male - rudely 
mutilated - still adhering to the arch of 
the pubis.’ The man had been dead for 
three to four weeks, his flesh roughly cut 
away from the bones which were then 
preserved in brine. Medical experiments 
were the first focus of speculation. The 
head of the Royal Medical Society 
denounced such suspicions as ‘simply 
absurd,’ claiming the body had been 
crudely butchered by someone ‘entirely 
ignorant’ of anatomical studies. Others 
suspected the victim may have been the 
‘unfaithful accomplice’ of some foreign 
agents. Adding credence to that surmise 
was the fact that the clothes were of 
French or Belgian manufacture. 

”lt was hoped that the socks, ‘of peculiar 
make and material’ might provide a vital 
clue. The victim’s clothes were hung on a 
line strung up at the Bow St. PoliceStation 
(28 Bow Street, London WC2, was the oldest 
police station in London, established in 1829 
and closed in the 1990s). Lines of people - 
many claiming to be anxious relatives of 
various missing persons - passed in parade. 
Most were merely ‘morbidly curious’. Adding 
to the ghoulish atmosphere, several people 
brought in skulls hoping to match the head 
with the body. This troubled The Illustrated 
London News: ‘Such facts set men thinking 
upon the amount of unknown crime that 
exists in our enormous and overgrown 
metropolis. ’ Not even a reward of £300 could 
solve what was to remain London's greatest 
mystery until the Ripper struck in 
Whitechapel. ” 

► The Haunted Mansion is a spooky 
attraction at Disneyland and other 
Disney theme parks around the 
world. It also has a connection to 
Mr Pickwick. 




•?. •• 

1 : *- 


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The story goes that when Disney 
was planning the Haunted Mansion, 
there used to be a sign which 
featured a caricature of Mr 
Pickwick outside the Pickwick Bowl 
leisure complex in Burbank, 
California. Disney employees would 
pass this sign on their way to work 
at WED Enterprises (now Walt 
Disney Imagineering) just a few 
blocks away - and this inspired 
them to include a ghostly version 
of Mr Pickwick, named simply 
'Pickwick', in the haunted ballroom 
scene at the mansion. 

► This Pickwick does not look exactly 
like our Mr Pickwick, but 
nonetheless he appears in Victorian 
garb. (In an alternative version of 
the origins of the character, the 
name Pickwick is an in-joke among 
Disney employees, alluding to a 
banqueting hall at the Pickwick 
Bowl - but even so, the name led 
the imagineers in the direction of a 
Victorian gentlemen, presumably 
via association to Mr Pickwick.) 

There have been comic-book 
adaptations of The Haunted 
Mansion, and in one of them - 
called The Pickwick Capers - the 
character of Pickwick is fleshed 
out, and it seems that, in life, he 
was scared of heights, and was 
indeed a "mole burglar', who used 
low tunnels and passageways to 
carry out his crimes; but as a 
ghost, freed from gravity's pull, 
Pickwick's acrophobia was cured. 

► I am sure that there are items of Disney memorabilia 
which feature the character. He apparently appears 
in a video game and, after a quick search online, I 
have found a Disney ID badge and also some 
homemade Haunted Mansion-themed Christmas 
stockings, both of which feature Pickwick. 

August 1 1 

David Whittaker has now reached page 
319 in his re-reading of Death and Mr 
Pickwick, and has posted this picture 
corresponding to that page, showing one 
of Seymour's Mr Pickwick-forerunners. 

This picture was noticed by the American 
Dr Samuel Lambert in the 1920s, and 
inspired him to visit England, to 
investigate Seymour's role in The Pickwick 
Papers ... where he received the cold 
shoulder from the Dickens Fellowship. The 
Fellowship also published a disgraceful 
attack on Lambert in The Dickensian 
journal, which reminds me of the sort of 
treatment I received on the Dickens Blog, 

August 1 1 

Peter Stadlera has followed up David 
Whittaker's post with a post of his own 
about the book in which the angling Mr 
Pickwick-lookalike appeared. 

In Death and Mr Pickwick, I decided to cut 
out the reference to chess in the book's 
subtitle, because I thought it would 
confuse readers: in the context of the 
Houghton Angling Club, a fishing book was 
perfectly understandable, but chess would 
seem strange unless I included a chess- 
scene. This is another example of those 
minor distortions which are necessary to 
hold a novel together. 

“In Death and Mr Pickwick we read about 
Richard Penn's Maxims and Hints for 
Anglers and Chess Players ■ 1833. 

► “The author (1784-1863) was a 
descendant (great-grandson) of 
William Penn, founder of 
Pennsylvania. He was an English 
official of the Colonial Office and 
writer, the younger son of Richard 
Penn (1736-181 1 ) the Member of 
Parliament. He was elected a 
Fellow of the Royal Society on 1 8 
November 1824, and died 
unmarried at Richmond, Surrey, on 
21 April 1863. 

“This book is food for thought for 
anglers and chess players with 12 
illustrations by Robert Seymour (of 
course you recognized Mr Pickwick 
in the pictures). 

‘Charles Dickens, Jr. mentions in 
his Dictionary of London (under 
CHESS): ‘Richard Penn, the author 
of the quaintest book in the 
language, Maxims and Hints for 
Chess Players and 
Anglers’ (illustrated by Stanfield)’ 
- Stanfield presumably being the 
name of a re-etcher, but ignoring 
the fact that the drawings were 
originally by Seymour. 


“In Penn’s time, if you wanted to 
play a game of chess you might go 
to THE DIVAN, 101, Strand. ‘Open 
from 12 noon to 11 p.m. Annual 
subscription, £2 2s. Single 
admission, including coffee and 
cigar, Is.; and free to all persons 
dining at Simpson's Restaurant. The 
Divan is a favourite resort of the 
professional chess-players resident 
in London, and is visited by every 
foreign player of eminence whom 
business or pleasure leads to 

“Simpson’s restaurant first opened 
in 1828 as the ‘home of chess’, 
later to be renamed ‘The Grand 
Cigar Divan’. Chessplayers would 
lounge on sofas and divans to play 
their games. The chess tradition 
died out early last century (1903) 
but was revived in 1980 mainly by 
the English Grandmaster Ray 
Keene. Apparently in 1849 the 
Divan was the place of the first 
chess tournament and was 
definitively the venue of the 
London Tournament of 1862.” 

One of the things I like about The 
Pickwick Papers is that you do not know 
where it will go next. What scrapes will 
Mr Pickwick and his chums get into? Or 
what will the next interpolated story be 
about? This was a quality I wanted for 
Death and Mr Pickwick too. And indeed, 
my books about unusual leisure activities, 
The Bizarre Leisure Book, and its update 
The Ultimate Guide to Unusual Leisure, 
have the same unpredictability. However, 
my introduction to the joys of this kind of 
entertainment came not from books, but 
from a TV series, The Prisoner, starring 
Patrick McGoohan as the former secret 
agent, Number Six. If you don't know the 
show, then probably the best summary is 
its title-sequence 

https: //www. youtube. com/watch?v=9AL7 

► The Prisoner was so unpredictable 
that there was even one episode in 
which McGoohan's consciousness 
was placed in another character's 
body, via a mind-transfer machine, 
so McGoohan didn't play Number 

The Prisoner first aired when I was a kid, and 
I liked it a lot then - 1 can remember how the 
UK was gripped by the question of who was 
the mysterious off-screen character "Number 
One" - but I especially got into the series 
when it was re-shown, in the 1980s. For a 
while, I was even a member of The Prisoner 
Appreciation Society, called Six of One - and 
indeed, that such a club could exist 
fascinated me, and provided the inspiration 
for thinking that lots more unusual 
appreciation societies might be out there, 
which of course led to pieces about unusual 
appreciation societies appearing in the two 
books. That Mr Inbelicate physically 
resembles Mr Pickwick - he is identified as fat 
and bald, with round spectacles - was also a 
nod to appreciation societies, whose 
members often dress up as the characters 
they like: plenty of members of Six of One 

The Prisoner also included an entire episode 
which was essentially an interpolated story 
called Living in Harmony, set in wild west times. 
I LOVED the audacity of simply launching into a 
cowboy-themed episode, without any 
explanation, not even the usual title sequence. 

It created an extraordinary unsettling feeling as 
you watched the episode, as though you hacf 
stumbled into the wrong TV show. Indeed, as 1 
recall, when that episode was shown in the USA, 
the broadcaster overprinted the words 'The 
Prisoner' at the start, because they feared that 
viewers might really believe they were watching 
the wrong show. I am sure that Living in 
Harmony had an influence on my use of 
interpolations in Death and Mr Pickwick. Of 
course, interpolations were present in The 
Pickwick Papers, and those were my guide, but I 
can remember now I loved suddenly inserting 
the story of Red-Faced Nixon or The Legend of 
Prince Bladud into the text, and the sheer 
audacity of doing such things harked back to the 
Living in Harmony episode of The Prisoner. 

Also, The Prisoner made me realise 
that a story can be more fascinating 
if you don't explain everything. In 
Death and Mr Pickwick, we don't 
really know a great deal about the 
motivations or Mr Inbelicateand 
Scripty, and I wanted to keep things 
that way. There are just hints to 
their behaviour. Mr Inbelicate keeps 
his true identity hidden, rather like 
characters in The Prisoner, and uses 
a pseudonym, but why does he do 
that? Perhaps because he hires 
Scripty to write a book, and knows 
that tne revelation of his identity 
would be a great conclusion to such a 

Also, why does Scripty have a fascination 
with The Pickwick Papers ? This is not really 
explored, but there is the passage where he 
talks about his mother experiencing weight 
loss before she died, which happened to my 
own mother, and perhaps immersing himself 
in the Pickwickian world of fat men is a 
compensation for the anguish of watching his 
mother becoming fatally thin. The fact that 
the framing story of Death and Mr Pickwick 
involves dialogue between Mr Inbelicate and 
Scripty is even a little like the interaction 
between Number Six and Number One's 
deputy, Number Two, and you will see a bit 
of such interaction in the title sequence, 
when Number Six wakes up after the gas 

In a way, the Welsh town of Portmeirion, 
where the Prisoner was set, can be regarded 
as a Death and Mr Pickwick site. . . 

August 13 

Trilby was the tale of a tone-deaf girl, 
Trilby O'Ferrall, who became a great 
singer under the hypnotic influence of the 
devilish Svengali. Initially published 
serially, in 1894, in Harper's Magazine, 
with the first edition in book form coming 
out in 1895, Trilby was, like Pickwick, 
illustrated, only with drawings by the 
author. Trilby's sales were certainly huge, 
but even so it wasn't as big a phenomenon 
as The Pickwick Papers: Pickwick was the 
world's most famous novel for almost a 
century, and Trilby didn't match that. But 
still, it has bequeathed to us the words 
for a style of hat, and for a master- 
manipulator, especially in showbiz - one 
frequently hears Simon Cowell described 
as a 'Svengali'. 

Oddly enough, the word 'Svengali' has a 
significance in my family too. When my mother 
died, my brother informed me of a family secret 
which my mother said I was NEVER to be told. It 
seems that my grandfather had an affair and 
that a child, an unnamed girl, was the result. 
The affair came to light when a woman, 
accompanied by a little girl, came into the 
family bookshop in Hackney, and she asked to 
see my grandfather. When told that he had died 
a few weeks before, she burst into tears, and 
immediately walked out. Shortly afterwards, 
some love-letters were found in the bookshop, 
referring to the little girl, and talking of my 
grandfather's piercing blue eyes, whose 
seductive power was likened to Svengali's. It's 
not obvious as to why my brother was told the 
secret, and not I . I look at it now as an attempt 
to keep me in a state of Mr Pickwick-like 
innocence, whereas my brother was deemed 
capable of coping with the realities of life. 

Well, my brother and I, along with 
our cousins Sylvia and Joyce, did 
try to trace our long-lost aunt - 
that is, the little girl, by then a 
grown-up woman of course, indeed 
a senior citizen - and the local 
newspaper in Hackney ran a story 
about our search for her. But 
unfortunately the love-letters had 
been destroyed years before, and 
we had no details to go on, and 
probably our aunt knew little 
about her father. 



Directed by Archie Mayo 
Donald Crisp Luis Albemi 

Lumsden Hare °y° 

Our main hope was that she might 
have been told about the Svengali- 
eyes, but alas the newspaper piece 
generated no response. 

But going back to George du 
Maurier, I wondered whether he 
had any views on Pickwick. The 
only thing I have found so far is a 
brief section in du Maurier's book 
Social Pictorial Satire, in which I 
note that he says: "It took two to 
make Mr Pickwick, the author and 
the artist." Well, for making that 
observation, one of the key 
insights of Death and Mr Pickwick, I 
say hats off to the author of Trilby! 

August 13 

Here is a beautiful post by Peter 
Stadlera on The Three Graces. 
Incidentally, Caroline Norton and 
her two sisters were nicknamed 
The Three Graces. 

“In Death and Mr Pickwick we hear 
about Euphrosyne, one of the 
Three Graces. The Three Graces 
statue shown here illustrates 
Antonio Canova's outstanding 
ability to transform cold hard 
marble into soft lustrous skin. 

“According to Greek mythology the three 
daughters of Zeus and Euryoneme were 
called Euphrosyne (representing mirth and 
joyfulness), Aglaia (elegance, brightness 
and splendor) and Thalia (beauty and good 
cheers). They were traditionally 
associated with Aphrodite, the goddess of 
love. Canova arranged the beautiful 
sisters in a loose semi-circle so that they 
complement one another in their poses 
and gazes, entwined arms and narrow 
swathes of drapery. The sculpture was 
commissioned by the 6th Duke of Bedford 
and installed on a pedestal (which could 
be rotated) in a specially built Temple at 
his country house, Woburn Abbey. 

August 13 

David Whittaker has just posted 
this amusing Seymour image. At 
the bottom of the picture it says: 
"REVOLVING HAT - which by a slight 
touch presents the wearer with 
eye-glass, cegar (sic), scent-box, 
spectacles, hearing trumpet etc 
etc without the intolerable trouble 
of holding them." 

August 14 

► The George and Vulture tavern features 
prominently in both The Pickwick 
Papers and Death and Mr Pickwick, and 
I have found a few examples of George- 
and-Vulture-iana online and two 
interesting videos. So, you will see a 

► ...a matchbook... 

► ...and most interesting of all, a 
silver-and-whalebone punch ladle 
used by Dickens at the George and 
Vulture in 1849. 

The fourth item is a specially-created 
George and Vulture pubsign which 
was intended for a 1984 TV 
advertising campaign featuring 
Castella cigars, though in the end the 
sign was unused. 

If you go to this site: 

h ttp : / / www. b rewe rya rti sts . co . u k / bu 
y-a-tv-pub-sign.html though you will 
see anotherversion of the sign, 
which was used in the ad - and see 
what happens when you mouse over 
the two G & V signs! The video for 
the ad itself is here: 


► Finally, take a look at this short 
video which takes us down the 
alleyways of modern London, to 
the George and Vulture tavern 


August 14 

Here is Peter Stadlera's latest post, 
featuring a playwright, James Albery, and 
an actor, Henry Irving. As I recall, I used 
some material which had been written 
about Irving to characterise Jingle in 
Death and Mr Pickwick. And Albery is one 
of many people connected to The 
Pickwick Papers or Death and Mr Pickwick 
who are buried in Kensal Green Cemetery. 
I haven't been there yet, but someday I 
shall. ..or perhaps a DaMP fan will get 
there first! 

“In today's post we have a look at James 
Albery (1838-1989). Born in London, 
Albery entered an architect's office after 
school and started to write plays. 


► “He was the author of a large 
number of plays and adaptions 
including Pickwick, a four-act 
drama and Jingle (a revised, 
farcical version of Pickwick), 
produced at the Lyceum in 1878. 
He even wrote this epitaph for 
himself: "He slept beneath the 
moon/He basked beneath the 
sun; /He lived a life of going-to- 
do, /And died with nothing done." 

► “I've found the cover of the 
Pickwick Quadrille. Actor Henry 
Irving as Alfred Jingle is featured 
bottom middle. 

► “The reviews generally were luke- 
warm, although Irving was praised. 
Most of the applause seemed to be 
reserved for the affection in which 
the original novel was held, and 
the memory of Dickens himself, 
who had died the previous year, 
and whose bust held a prominent 
position onstage. 

August 14 

► David Whittaker is continuing his 
re-reading of Death and Mr 
Pickwick, and posting images as he 
does so. Here is an image 
corresponding to page 402 - "Coster 
Boy and Girl Tossing for Pies' from 
Mayhew's Street Traders. It is 
especially satisfying that this 
image comes from a work by 
Mayhew, who of course appears as 
a character in DaMP. 

David has also posted this picture by Seymour, 
corresponding to page 41 5. 

This character is SO like Mr Pickwick as to essentially BE 
Mr Pickwick. The character appears in The Book of 
Christmas. In Death and Mr Pickwick, I give Seymour the 
credit for introducing the idea of Christmas scenes in The 
Pickwick Papers, and there are four reasons for that. 1 1 If 
you are compiling a diary of travels - which is essential^ 
what The Pickwick Papers is - then at some point you are 
going to hit Christmas 2) The image that David has found 
is solike Mr Pickwick, it is virtually inevitable that 
Seymour would associate Mr Pickwick with Christmas. Or, 
to put it another way, Mr Pickwick has already been 
associated with Christmas. 3) The failure of The Book of 
Christmas to appear on time, thereby wasting some of 
Seymour's finest drawings, makes it likely that Seymour 
would use the opportunity that The Pickwick Papers 
presented to include Christmas scenes that WOULD 
appear on time 4) In the series of drawings that Seymour 
did for Richard Carlile, he had already shown men falling 
through ice - strongly reminiscent of the accident that 
happens to Mr Pickwick in The Pickwick Papers. 

One can also add that drawings of Christmas scenes were 
rare at this point in history. To have done a WHOLE BOOK 
of Christmas drawings makes them very much part of 
Seymour's 'signature style' as an artist. 

And, turning the page, David has 
also posted this great Seymour 
picture, corresponding to page 
416. There is a lot of life in this 
image - the irate man at the 
window, the musicians, and the 
couple dancing in the background. 

I love this picture. You can 
understand that Seymour would 
have been very angry that Hervey, 
the letterpress writer, let him 
down, so the book failed to appear 
on time, and all his fine work was 

August 14 

► Here are two pictures posted by 
Peter Stadlera, covering pugilism and 
a pun on the name of Seymour(e). It's 
interesting that the pugilism picture 
shows the fighters with gloves - 
perhaps one of the historical boxing 
experts who visit this page could 
comment on that? 

► “In Death and Mr Pickwick we read 
about pugilists. In this continuous 
hand-coloured aquatint panoramic 
view by Robert Cruikshankwe are 
Going to a Fight: ‘The Sporting World 
in all its variety of Style and Costume 
along the Road from Hyde Park 
Corner to Moulsey Hurst.’ 

“I've also seen an interesting 
cartoon by Robert Cruikshank: How 
to Seymoure than we like - a 
Cunning Mystery. ” 

* Pierce Egan When pugilists were 'merely' sparring, they wore 
£ muffles, and although the illustration portrays something more 
substantial than muffles, namely full-blown gloves, i suspect the 
illustration represents a typical scene at a benefit night' 
(predominantly held at The Fives Court, Little St. Martin’s Lane). 
At such benefits there would be a few exhibition bouts, and the 

unlikely to Inflict any serious injuries on one another After all, the 
bouts would/should have had the air of 'a friendly' (to use football 

August 15 

In Death and Mr Pickwick, Mr 
Inbelicate has a collection of 
records which mention clowns. 
When I was writing the novel, I did 
actually put together a selection of 
clown songs, as a Spotify list - 
essentially forming Mr Inbelicate's 

Some of these are entirely clown- 
themed, and others have just a line 
about clowns - so for instance, 
Richard Ashcroft's fine sons Break the 
Night with Colour has the Tine 'Mama 
thinks you are the clown, you're 
looking so frightening' while Pink's 
Funhouse has 'This used to be a 
funhouse, but now it's full of evil 
clowns.' I also added The Bee Gees' / 
Started a Joke, which though not 
explicitly about clowns, resonates 
with the theme. Leo Sayer's The 
Show Must Go On, though not about 
clowns as such, was performed by 
Sayer in full clown-garb, and so in a 
way was the most clownish of all. 

Also, as time went by, I added a few 
other songs which seemed in keeping 
with Death and Mr Pickwick, even if 
they didn't refer to clowns - notably 
the suicide-themed Ode to Billie Joe 
by Bobbie Gentry, and Rock 'N' Roll 
Suicide by David Bowie. Then came 
Nemo, by Nightwish (evoking 
memories of Hablot Browne's first 
pseudonym) and Dance of the 
Coachmen. Saint-Saens' Danse 
Macabre of course echoes with 
Holbein's Dance of Death (and Combe 
and Rowlandson's English Dance of 

You’ll see youtube links to everything on the 

The Show Must Go On ■ Leo 
Saver https://www. youtube. com/watch?v=06 
Death of a Clown ■ 

Kinks http- " 

I am a Clown - David 

Cassidy https: / / www. youtube. com/ watch?v= 

Send in the Clowns (in Swedish) - Frida, from 
Abbahttps: / /www. youtube, com/ watch?v=2RX 

Send in the Clowns ■ Barbra 
Streisand https 
Send in the Clowns ■ Judy 

Goldfrapp https: // 

Break the Night with Colour - Richard 

Ashcrof thttps: / /www .youtube .com/watch?v=uYOqQlUaMl 

Crazy Clown Time - David 

Lynch https: / / com/ watch?v=caWXt9lCVrc 
Funhouse - Pink 

https: / / 
Ha Ha Said the Clown - Manfred 

Mann https: / /www. youtube. com/ watch?v=4QN7kmOhBM 

Sande https: // com/ watch?v=0OHX_PA25Ok 
/ Started a Joke - Bee 

Gees watch?v=jrg1UAixGaM 
Vest) La Giubba - 

Caruso https: / / com/ watch?v=yp3Vi1CspgE 

A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall - Bob 

Dylan https: / / .com/watch?v=wCGoOPM2_xO 

Nightwish https: //www. youtube. com/watch?v=kl 

Ode to Billie Joe - Bobbie Gentry - 

https: / / 

Rock 'N' Roll Suicide - David Bowie - 
https: / / 

Dance of the Coachmen from Petrushka ■ Igor 



Danse Macabre - Saint- 

Saens https: / / 

Send in the Clowns ■ Bryan 

Ferry https: / /www. watch?v=c6rzOl 


No doubt many more songs could be added. Do 
DaMP fans have any other suggestions for songs 
for the jukebox? Recently, indeed, I added Bryan 
Ferry's fine cover of Sena in The Clowns. 

August 15 

If you're looking for silence in central London, y 
could do a lot worse than heading here 

David Goldsmith has just sent me 
this link to an article about the 
garden at the Dickens Museum, 
which mentions Seymours 

http: / /londonist. com/201 6/07/is- 



251 &utm_medium=social8tutm_sou 


August 16 

I have posted quite a lot of examples of 
Pickwick products on this page, but the most 
prolific user of Pickwick branding seems to 
have been a company that was based in 
Kansas City, in the early twentieth century. 
The company had a full range of Pickwick 
products, and every few weeks on collecting 
websites and ebay I come across another 
example of the packaging for their wares. I 
have posted images of some of their products 
before, such as Pickwick Peanut Butter and 
Pickwick Tomatoes, but here are some recent 
examples that I have found, including the 
Pickwick Chili Con Came that turned up the 
other day. Note in particular the Pickwick 
coffee deck of cards - with its slogan 'Men 
prefer Pickwick' and a government tax stamp. 

August 16 

Eating and drinking are a huge part of The 
Pickwick Papers, Death and Mr Pickwick 
and, of course, this page. In his latest 
post, Peter Stadlera looks into the history 
of a certain sort of pastry, mentioned in 
Death and Mr Pickwick. 

“In Death and Mr Pickwick we read about 
puff paste pie and wonder how it was 
done properly in the past. Puff pastry was 
a very popular form of pastry crust in the 
18th century. It was commonly used for 
pies, pasties, and fried patties (what we 
would think of as a fried turnover). A 
number of period cookbooks suggest puff 
pastry is best for meat dishes, though 
others also recommend a thin puff paste 
for fruit tarts. According to the Oxford 
English Dictionary, recipes for puff pastry 
first began to appear in cookbooks in the 
early 1600’s. 

“The basic ingredients for puff paste are 
virtually the same as those used in standing 
and short crusts: flour, water, a little salt, 
and fat, but the key to making a good puff 
paste is found in how one goes about bringing 
the ingredients together. Rather than 
incorporating the fat (i.e. , butter) into the 
flour by cutting or rubbing it in as with a 
short crust, or by melting it before mixing as 
with a standing crust, the butter used in a 
puff paste is for the most part sandwiched in 
between layers of dough. The butter/dough 
sandwich is then repeatedly rolled out thin 
and folded upon itself. During this whole 
procedure, the dough and butter are kept 
chilled to prevent the butter from melting 
and thus becoming completely integrated? 
The layering of butter between thin sheets of 
dough results in an exquisitely flaky crust 
unequalled by other construction methods. 

August 16 

David Whittaker is continuing to 
post pictures as he re-reads Death 
and Mr Pickwick. Here are two 
pictures by Seymour 
(corresponding to page 430 of 
DaMP) from The Squib Annual. The 
first shows Seymour's interest in 
Sancho Panza, alluding to Sancho's 
desire to be the governor of an 

► The second refers to a punishment 
system operating in jails, in which 
prisoners had to be totally silent - 
and Seymour extends the principle 
to life on the streets. 

August 17 

Few people today are aware of the writer 
Walter Besant, who appears in two 
episodes in Death and Mr Pickwick: as a 
student, when he finishes in first place in 
the Pickwick Examination, and much later 
in life, when he produces the story The 
Death of Samuel Pickwick. But there was 
a time when Besant was very famous. A 
couple of indications of his fame appear in 
this post. He appears firstly as a 
bookmark, given away with Player's Navy 
Mixture tobacco: only ten writers received 
the bookmark honour - and the level of 
Besant's fame is indicated by the fact that 
the other bookmarks included Sir Arthur 
Conan Doyle, Leo Tolstoy, Rudyard Kipling 
and Robert Louis Stevenson. 

► Similarly, here is a postcard which 
places Besant in the company of 
three distinguished writers. 

I wondered what other Besant-iana I 
could find online, and I found 
something which indicates how 
Besant's fame has slipped. This third 
picture shows what seems to be 
Besant's own masonic jewel, from 
the Quatuor Coronati Lodge, of which 
he was a member: this jewel, which 
was auctioned a few years ago, 
belonged, according to the auction 
statement, to a 'W.P. Besent' (sic). No 
awareness was shown that this was 
the writer, and of course the 
surname was misspelt. I suppose it is 
possible that there was another 
member of the Quatuor Coronati 
Lodge called Besent, but I think that 
is unlikely. 

Another piece of Besant-iana I 
found was a bookplate, from his 
personal library. Given the 
importance of The Pickwick Papers 
in Besant's life, I think we can 
safely assume that such a 
bookplate was once pasted in the 
front of his personal copy of 

August 17 

David Whittaker continues to post pics during his re- 
reading of Death and Mr Pickwick. Here are two 
more by Seymour. The first refers to page 430, and is 
another from The Squib Annual. 

► The second refers to page 432. 

August 17 

Peter Stadlera now posts about a naturalist who appears 
in the section of Death and Mr Pickwick where Samuel 
Pickwick is talking about his interest in sticklebacks. And 
the extraordinary object in Peter's post is actuals a 
microscope - 1 would never even have recognised it as a 

“In Death and Mr Pickwickvie read about William Arderon 
( 1 703- 1 767), an English naturalist. Arderon moved from 
Yorkshire to Norwich as an excise officer. There, 
influential contacts got him the post of managing clerk at 
the New Mills. He became close to Henry Baker, to whose 
works on the microscope he contributed. Arderon was 
elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1745, and was 
later regarded as the founder of a school of naturalists 
and men of science in Norwich. He died 25 November 
1 767, and was buried in Heigham churchyard, near 
Norwich. He married first Susan, who died 20th June, 
1759, aged 47, by whom he had a son, William, who died 
14th August, 1748, aged 17. His second wife, Sarah 
Chamberlin died 18th January, 1762, aged 31, In his life 
it is said that his second wife had been first engaged to 
his son (I had to think about Bill Wyman and Mandy Smith 

K F. V 1 E W 

*9* **«* rf London. . 

;/ "'! r * T"z^r/ * 

isill- K| 


► “Arderon was a very tall and stout 
man, and was confined to his chair 
for some years previous to his 
death. He made numerous 
contributions to the Philosophical 

“He also left manuscripts on 
subjects connected with natural 
history and microscopy, journals, 
and correspondence with Henry 
Baker. In the first picture (it's from 
the Norwich Castle Museum, shown 
left) we see his early hand-held 
Culpepper microscope, and 
through it Arderon observed and 
recorded new phenomena which he 
communicated to the Royal 
Society. On you can 
also find letters from Arderon to 
Henry Baker.” 

August 17 

David Whittaker has now posted 
this picture of Seymour's which I 
have always found interesting - it 
IS humorous, but at the same time 
it has such a violence, with a man's 
nose being chopped off. 

August 17 

Death and Mr. Pickwick by Stephen Jarvis 

Another good review of Death and 
Mr Pickwick ! Here is the link: 



August 17 

And now David Whittaker posts a picture 
corresponding to page 487 of Death and 
Mr Pickwick. It is of course the wrapper to 
the serial parts issue of The Pickwick 
Papers. I have to say that by posting this 
picture David conveys a fine sense of the 
audacity of Death and Mr Pickwick - even 
though DaMP is a book about The Pickwick 
Papers, it is only at this point, after 486 
previous pages, that we are on the eve of 
publication of Pickwick 1 . (Or, to be strictly 
accurate, the day when Seymour designed 
the cover... we are not quite at 
publication yet!) Note here the 'R' and the 
S' for 'Robert Seymour' which are 
suggested by the fishing lines. Also note 
that this particular wrapper was printed 
after Seymour's death - his name has been 
removed, so that it simply says 'with 


► And David has followed up with 
these wrappers - the first for a 
plagiaristic Pickwick songbook, the 
second to accompany some extra- 
illustrations for The Pickwick 
Papers, published by William 
Strange, whom Peter Stadlera 
posted about recently. 

August 18 

The SP Lohia Foundation 
( exists to 
preserve rare books and manuscripts, and 
it has a particularly fine collection of 
eighty-six of Seymour's pictures, originally 
published in 1866 as Seymour's Humorous 
Sketches, though the binding dates from 
the mid-twentieth century. This is the 
only edition I have seen in FULL COLOUR, 
and hand-painted throughout. You can 
play all the sketches as a slideshow, or 
pause to zoom in and read the captions. 
Here is the link: 




August 18 

David Whittaker has now reached p.508, where 
you will find a section about this picture, which 
is attributed to Robert Buss. In Death and Mr 
Pickwick, Mr Inbelicate talks about the woodcut 
for the wrapper of The Pickwick Papers being 
made here, but Scripty says that he would 
sometimes find Mr Inbelicate staring at the 
picture, totally absorbed, which would seem 
strange if the picture just referred to the making 
of the woodcut. But in fact it DOESN'T only refer 
to that woodcut. Because this picture shows 
John Jackson's premises. On that desk, Seymour 
would have laid down his last finished picture, 
for the Library of Fiction, so that Jackson could 
turn it into a woodcut. It represents the sad 
conclusion of Robert Seymour's career. I don't 
spell this out in the text, because I prefer to 
leave some things a bit mysterious, but obviously 
Mr Inbelicate sees this picture as representing 
one of THE key moments leading up to Seymour's 
suicide, and this is why the picture fascinates 

August 19 

I have posted many visual 
interpretations of The Pickwick 
Papers on this page, but one of the 
most unusual I have encountered is 
that created by the American 
cartoonist Thomas Nast in his 
Illustrated Almanac of 1873. 
Because Nast - known as the father 
of the American cartoon, and the 
man who invented the modern 
image of Santa Claus - decided to 
illustrate a section of Pickwick 
entirely with silhouettes. 

I think the most amusing silhouette 
is the dying frog, below - the first 
time I can recall seeing this 
character' portrayed. 

August 19 

In this post, Peter Stadlera discusses Fraser's 
Magazine. But his mention of Thomas 
Carlyle's book Sartor Resartus ('the tailor re- 
tailored') made me suddenly think of 
Seymour s lost work Hippins Hiphippins - the 
two have exactly the same rhythm, and I 
wonder whether Seymour was intending an 
allusion to Carlyle here? I did start reading 
Sartor Resartus when I was working on Death 
and Mr Pickwick, because there may well be 
one or two echoes of that work in The 
Pickwick Papers. Specifically, I remember the 
late Dr David Parker suggesting to me that 
the section in the first serial part of 
Pickwick, when Mr Pickwick leant out of the 
window and referred to the views of 
philosophers, was probably influenced by 
Sartor Resartus, but I didn't get very far with 
the book, as I knew I had to make cuts in 
Death and Mr Pickwick, and so I decided to 
stop reading. One day perhaps I shall go back 
to it. 

"In Death and Mr Pickwick we read about 
Fraser's Magazine. In this picture we seen The 
Fraserians, the contributors to the London 
literary journal Fraser's Magazine for Town and 
Country, bringing together the leading lights of 
the nascent Victorian literary scene. The 
engraving is by Daniel Maclise (1806-1870). 
Clockwise from back centre: host William 
Maginn, Irving, Fr. Francis Sylvester Mahony, 
Glaig, Brydges, Thomas Carlyle (whose Sartor 
Resartus was first published in Fraser's), 
Cunningham, B. Orzy, Mair, Brewster, Hook, 
Lockhart, Thomas Crofton Croker, Fraser, 
Gerdan, Dunlop, Galt, Hogg, Samuel Taylor 
Coleridge, Ainsworth, Macnish, Murphy, 
Churchill, W.M. Thackeray, Bankes, Southay, 
Cornwall. Prominent in the portrait are the real 
directors of the magazine, three Corkonians: 
William Maginn, the magazine's first editor; Fr. 
Francis Sylvester Mahony, who wrote under the 
pseudonym 'Fr. Prout', and the folklorist Thomas 
Crofton Croker. 




“The journal was published in 
London from 1830 to 1882. It was 
founded by Hugh Fraser and 
William Maginn in 1830 and loosely 
directed by Maginn (and later 
Francis Mahony) under the name 
Oliver Yorke until about 1840. It 
circulated until 1882. After James 
Fraser's death in 1841 the 
magazine was acquired by George 
William Nickisson, and in 1847 by 
John William Parker. Its last 
notable editor was James Anthony 
Froude (1860-1874).” 

August 20 

Some time ago, Frank Bouchier-Hayes found Pa the News 
footage of the Pickwick Papers centenaiy in 1936, 
featuring a coach ride to Rochester. Well, here is 
Movietone's coverage of the same event: 

https: / / watch?v=mAv1 Jz_xHxo 

However, the dip is badly edited, and at the end there is 
part of the next news story, concerning Hitler. Long-time 
visitors to this page will remember that I did consider 
covering the rise of Nazism in Death and Mr Pickwick. I 
have a vague recollection, indeed, that in the Dickens 
Museum I read a dipping about someone watching the 
Movietone reel, ana this person mentioned the stories 
about Pickwick and Hitler, and this made me think that I 
could compare and contrast these two huge social 
phenomena. I even wrote to the Czech writer Ivan Klima, 
who read Pickwick again and again while he was in a Nazi 
concentration camp, "because Inoped that he would allow 
me to interview him about the experience of reading 
Pickwick under such terrible drcumstances. 
Unfortunately, Klima never replied, and so I dropped the 
idea. The only relic of the idea in the novel now is the 
section dealing with the London Blitz. 

August 20 

Michael Segers: “After four weeks of 
celebrating operas about Faust (by 
Berlioz, Gounod, Boito, and Busoni), here 
is an opera not about Faust but about 
selling one's soul, Weber's Der Freischutz. 
Here is an 1822 illustration of Der 
Freischutz depicting the opening scene.” 

Also, here is the youtube link to the opera 
with subtitles: 

https: //www. youtube. com/watch?v=JtWF 

And here is a fifteen-minute extract, 
featuring the Wolf’s Glen scene: 

https: / /www. youtube. com/watch?v=rdlld 

August 20 

Peter Stadlera's posts often suggest 
whole new worlds to explore - and 
this one makes me very curious about 
the stage tricks invented by Farley. I 
wonder whether any are still used in 
plays today? 

“In Death and Mr Pickwickwe read 
about Harlequin and Poor Robin ; or, 
The House That Jack Built, a play by 
English actor and dramatist Charles 
Farley (1771-1859). It's abouta 
pantomime featuring Poor Robin, 
who was a ragged, frayed old man 
and Jack the Miller, who becomes 

“Farley was born in London and 
entered the theatrical profession 
at an early age, making his first 
appearance as a page at Covent 
Garden Theatre, London, in 1782. 
He was better known, however, as 
a melodramatic performer and as 
an efficient stage-manager. 

“He was the instructor of Joseph 
Grimaldi, with whom he starred in a 
production of Valentine and Orson in 
1806, Farley playing the former role. He 
also assisted Thomas Dibdin in the 
composition of Harlequin and Mother 
Goose, the show which boosted Grimaldi 
to stardom. As a theatrical machinist he 
was in his time without a rival, and he 
was the originator of many of the 
incidents and tricks introduced into the 
dramas and pantomimes at this house. His 
acting was in the old-fashioned noisy 
manner, with much gesture, a popular 
style with the contemporary audience. He 
retired from public life in 1834, and died 
at his residence, 42 Ampthill Square, 
Hampstead Road, London, on 28 January 

Poor Robin’s Dream; 

Commonly called POOR C ARITY. 

“Poor Robin was also an English 
17th and 18th century satirical 
almanac series establishing a 
tradition of parody, reporting the 
trivial and inconsequential 
juxtaposed with the serious, in 
parallel chronologies.” 

August 21 

The most valuable British cigarette 
cards are those that make up the 
Clown set, featuring circus scenes, 
made by the Taddy company in 

► A single card in this set can sell for 
£500-£2000, and a complete set for 
perhaps £30,000 - though no 
complete sets have come up for 
sale for ages. However, a 
reproduction of the set was made 
in 1991, which sells for a fraction 
of the price of the originals. 

► The significance of these cards for 
Death and Mr Pickwick fans is that 
the packet design, and certain of 
the Clown cards themselves, 
feature a clown who was obviously 
intended to be Joseph Grimaldi, 
using one of his styles of make-up, 
as shown on the painted egg. 
(Painted eggs being the normal 
method of a recording a clown’s 

Why are these cards so valuable? 
Well, in 1921 the Taddy company 
closed down, when the Clown set 
was at the printers. As a result, 
Clown cigarettes were never 
manufactured, and the cards never 
released. Less than twenty sets are 
known to have been printed, and 
as these exist only in proof form, 
their backs are completely blank.